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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 9 May 1995) . . Page.. 310 ..


Land Transfers - Contracts

MR BERRY: My question is to Mr Humphries in his capacity as Attorney-General. Does this ACT Government normally commit itself to legally binding agreements concerning the transfer of land without proper contractual documentation?

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, first of all, may I note what an auspicious day today is. In asking me this question the Labor Party has broken a tradition that now goes back for six years of never having asked a non-Labor Attorney-General in this place a question.

Mr Connolly: No; we asked Mr Collaery one the day he was not present.

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Collaery was never asked a question. Today is the first day that a non-Labor Attorney-General has been asked a question on the floor of this house by the Labor Party. I congratulate the Labor Party on having the guts to finally get around to asking a question and I take pleasure in answering it.

Obviously, Ms Follett is trying to suggest that there is some problem to do with the statute of frauds, which provides for agreements relating to land to be in writing. Lawyers know that that is the case - that agreements relating to land do need to be in writing, as a general rule, to be legally enforceable in the courts. What the Chief Minister has made clear, however, is that there was an agreement, a contract, binding promises, agreements for consideration, whatever term you want to use, as between the ACT Government and the Commonwealth Government. If Ms Follett thinks that when the Prime Minister of this country and Ms Follett - - -

Mr Berry: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I asked, and I would like to get to the bottom of this: Does the ACT Government normally commit itself to legally binding agreements concerning the transfer of land without proper contractual documentation? Which part does Mr Humphries not understand? I am perfectly happy to explain it to him in full so that I can get to the bottom of the question. Does the ACT Government normally do that?

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I understand Mr Berry's stupid question perfectly well and I will answer the question perfectly clearly so that even he might be able to understand the answer. The answer is that there is not yet any transfer of land taking place. We are not proposing to hand over the title deeds to Acton Peninsula and receive the title deeds for Kingston today, yesterday or tomorrow. That will happen at some point down the track. However, there is unquestionably an agreement between governments, entered into in the same way that I suspect most agreements between governments are entered into in this country, that is, by leaders or senior officials of those governments talking to each other and reaching agreement.

If Ms Follett thinks that it can be reached only by documentation being exhaustively drawn up and contracts being exhaustively prepared and so on, and that it is not until that point that agreement is reached, she has had a dramatic change of heart since she herself was in government. I suspect that when Ms Follett announced about a year ago that she


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