Page 2079 - Week 06 - Thursday, 8 June 2017

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At this point I would like to emphasise that this measure maintains procedures and rights around negotiations and review as to the amount of compensation to be paid. The owner of the interest in land can accept or reject the executive’s offer of compensation and, if rejected, the executive must consider the offer and make a final offer. If the person rejects the final offer, it can be reviewed by ACAT. In summary, the bill retains significant mechanisms for the owner to input into, negotiate and seek review of the compensation amount.

The explanatory memorandum for the original act noted a number of key principles behind the making of the act. These principles included the following: first, open procedures in the acquisition of property; second, public accountability of decisions to acquire property; third, compensation for people whose interest in property is acquired which recognises their interests, concerns and rights of appeal; and, finally, completing the acquisition of the land expeditiously.

In my view this bill is consistent with these four underlying principles. In particular, it preserves existing procedural rights and facilities and the expeditious acquisition of land. For transition purposes, I note that the three-year time limit will apply from the day the bill commences in relation to compulsory acquisitions that occurred before the commencement of the bill. So if the person has not made a claim for compensation within three years from the commencement of this bill, the executive may make an offer of compensation. For example, if the land was acquired in 2011, and no claim is made before the bill commences, the executive can offer compensation three years from the day this bill commences.

In considering any amendment to the Lands Acquisition Act it is necessary to ensure that the amendment is consistent with the standing requirement that any compulsory acquisition of property be done on just terms. As members would be aware, this is what section 23(1)A of the commonwealth Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988, otherwise known as the self-government act, requires.

The priorities currently met by the Lands Acquisition Act affirming the right to compensation and setting out the general principles for calculating the compensable amount. Specifically, section 42 of the act affirms the right to compensation. Section 45 and related sections detail the general principles for calculating the amount of compensation, including the need to have regard to the market value of the interest in the land and other matters. Section 78 of the act expressly gives the Supreme Court and the High Court the power to review a compensable decision and to substitute its own, if considered necessary, to ensure just terms of compensation.

Madam Speaker, the modest targeted measure in this bill has no impact on those bedrock compensation principles reflected in provisions such as these. The measure is, however, effective and facilitating the compensation negotiation process. I feel it will benefit both the territory and the people whose land is subject to compulsory acquisition. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Wall) adjourned to the next sitting.

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