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Thursday, 26 June 2008
Page: 3506

Senator BRANDIS (1:11 PM) —The Lands Acquisition Legislation Amendment Bill 2008 is identical to the Lands Acquisition Legislation Amendment Bill 2007, which was introduced into the Senate on 13 September last year and which lapsed when the parliament was prorogued. The bill amends the Lands Acquisition Act 1989 to reflect the changes in the modern Commonwealth property environment and to decrease administration costs.

By schedule 1, which deals with mining regulations, the bill proposes to enable the dissemination of Commonwealth mining regulations for the administration of mining on Commonwealth land to enable state and territory legislation to be applied in a manner consistent with Commonwealth policy. It also vests the Federal Court with jurisdiction in matters arising under those regulations.

By schedule 2, which deals with offers by the minister for compensation where no claim is made, the bill proposes to expedite the compensation process and ease the financial and administrative burdens in relation to compulsory acquisitions. The purpose of the proposal is to avoid delays to settlement of compensation in relation to acquisitions and to provide certainty to the Commonwealth on its financial exposure in such circumstances.

Further amendments by schedule 3 bring the administration of land on the Cocos Islands into line with land administration on Christmas Island and Norfolk Island without the intervention of the act. The issue of land tenure on those external territories is, as you are no doubt aware, Mr Acting Deputy President Bishop, a matter of great interest to those who have a taste for such constitutional and legal arcana.

Dealings in land on the Cocos Islands under the Cocos (Keeling) Islands Act 1955 have, by reason of oversight, not been made exempt from the act. The amendment proposes to remove the tabling of commercial acquisitions on market of an interest in land to reduce duplication and administrative burdens. Accountability and transparency of commercial acquisitions is provided by AusTender, which makes public commercial acquisitions of property by the Commonwealth. AusTender has a standard of transparency and accountability equivalent to that of tabling in parliament. The amendment proposes to substitute the Attorney-General with the Minister for Finance and Deregulation in connection with cancelling and amending title documents related to land held in trust. This is a practical measure, as that minister has responsibility for the administration of the act.

By schedule 4, the Lands Acquisition (Defence) Act 1968 is repealed. That legislation, which was created in order to acquire public parkland in New South Wales, is now redundant, since the acquisition has long since passed.

There has been extensive consultation and agreement with the states and territories regarding the miscellany of matters that are the subject of this bill. As I previously mentioned, the bill essentially is designed to ease administrative burdens and associated financial costs. The opposition supports these measures.