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Tuesday, 29 May 1984
Page: 2100

(Question No. 774)

Senator Martin asked the Minister representing the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 30 March 1984:

(1) Is the priority of purchases in the case of sale of surplus Government land : (a) the prior owner; (b) State governments; and (c) local governments.

(2) Is the land offered for sale by tender, in the event that none of 1 (a), (b ) or (c) desire/qualify to purchase the land.

(3) Are there any exceptions to this policy; if so, on what grounds, and is Parliament advised of any exceptions.

(4) Does the Auditor-General have responsibility to examine the method of sale used and details of any sale effected.

Senator Gietzelt —The Minister for Administrative Services has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) The normal order of priority in the sale of land surplus to the requirements of the Commonwealth is:

(a) former owner

(b) State government

(c) local government.

(2) In the event that none of these desire to purchase the land, it is normally offered for sale by public auction or public tender.

(3) The Minister for Administrative Services has the authority to make exceptions to this policy and grant priority disposals. Standing exceptions have been agreed for disposal of:

houses, which are offered or sale to tenants in possesion if no former owner entitlement exist;

rifle ranges, which are offered to civilian rifle clubs in occupation if no former owner entitlement exists;

non-official post offices which are offered to non-official postmasters if no former owner entitlement exists; and

land locked properties where no access is available, ie. offered in normal priority order but then to adjoining owners rather than through the public auction or tendering systems.

Other exceptions are made infrequently by the Minister on a case by case basis. Grounds in the past have related to equity or practicality.

There are no requirements to advise Parliament in the case of an exception being made.

(4) Methods by which surplus government land is disposed of by sale and detailed arrangements of such sales are matters subject to audit and inspection by the Auditor-General in discharging his responsibilities under the Audit Act.