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Monday, 10 September 1984
Page: 766

(Question No. 952)

Senator Jones asked the Minister representing the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 12 June 1984:

(1) What is the area of Crown land in Australia currently held by the Commonwealth Government.

(2) What percentage of the total area of that Crown land is not currently in regular use.

(3) Will the Minister for Administrative Services explain whether this unused land could be disposed of without jeopardising national interest, either by auction or by other means.

(4) Will the Minister furnish details about:

(a) the area;

(b) the location and boundaries;

(c) the estimated current market value; and

(d) the productive potential in terms of arable dirt,

of each tract of Crown land in Australia and its Territories which is not currently in use.

(5) Will the Commonwealth Government consider making certain areas of Crown land available in each State and Territory for pilot projects in establishing co -operative kibbutz-style settlements in order to rescue at least some of the growing legion of long-term unemployed and homeless youth.

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

(1) 1,684,768 hectares.

(2) and (3) The Property Directorate of the Department of Administrative Services is presently conducting an on-going review of all Commonwealth property to ensure that properties which are not in regular use are identified and disposed.

Properties identified as surplus to requirements are disposed of in accordance with well established procedures. These require that Commonwealth departments are curcularised to determine if there is a Commonwealth need.

If there is none the property is first offered to the former owner (if applicable), then to State and local government and the general public, in that order. When offered on the open market the highest price is always sought.

(4) I am unable to answer this part of the question as I am not prepared to divert scarce staffing resources to undertake the research necessary at a time when such resources are fully utilised.

(5) Development of programs for the unemployed is a matter for the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. However, the current practice of selling surplus land for maximum return gives the Government greater scope to allocate resources to the most appropriate programs.