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Wednesday, 13 June 1984
Page: 2919

Senator SIBRAA —My question is directed to the Attorney-General. Has his attention been drawn to letters being distributed by the Freehold Rights Association in New South Wales, particularly in the New England region of the State, urging people to write to Federal members of parliament seeking their support for a proposed Property Rights Protection Act 1984? What is the Government's view of such an Act?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I have seen copies of letters being circulated by the Freehold Rights Association in which some bizarre claims are made about alleged socialist ravages being perpetrated by the Wran Labor Government. Those claims are bizarre on any view. The Association is primarily concerned about an Act of the New South Wales Parliament relating to coal acquisition, and an Act of the type referred to-namely, the Property Rights Protection Act-would appear to be essentially a matter for the New South Wales State Parliament. Any private member's Bill in the Federal Parliament along the lines being proposed would equally appear to be quite misconceived.

Senator Durack —What about the external affairs power?

Senator GARETH EVANS —It is capable of some very interesting applications, as the honourable senator is well aware, but I do not think it is being suggested on this occasion as being appropriate or necessary.

Senator Chaney —Selective civil rights.

Senator GARETH EVANS —As that has come from the mouth of Senator Chaney, he ought to go and wash his mouth out too. As regards the Commonwealth acquisition of land, the Minister for Administrative Services and I announced last year the Government's intention to reform the laws in this area in accordance with many of the recommendations contained in the Australian Law Reform Commission's Report No. 14. It is hoped that, subject to the restrictions of the parliamentary timetable, legislation may be introduced and debated in the Budget session. For the information of honourable senators and in further answer to Senator Sibraa's question, I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard the text of a short Press statement.

Leave granted.

The document read as follows-

Reform of Commonwealth Lands Acquisition Law

The Hon. John Brown, M.P., Minister for Administrative Services, and Senator the Hon. Gareth Evans, Attorney-General, to-day announced that the Government proposed to introduce a new Lands Acquisition Bill into the Parliament in the near future.

The Minister said that the Bill would pick up many of the recommendations for reform made by the Law Reform Commission in its Report No. 14: Lands Acquisition and Compensation.

Mr Brown added that amongst the results to be expected from the proposed legislation were more open procedures in the land acquisition process, greater public accountability for decisions to acquire property and more generous provisions for compensation for persons deprived of their land by the actions of the Commonwealth.

These reforms would be achieved by

new acquisition procedures whereby owners will be notified of their rights and be able to seek valuation and legal advice at Commonwealth expense

review by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal of acquisition decisions and offers of compensation

expansion of the categories of compensation for compulsory acquisition to include

a solace payment where the principal place of residence was acquired

more generous compensation for disturbance

compensation for principal private residence to be based on the cost of a replacement property where compensation is otherwise insufficient to purchase a replacement property

for leasehold interests the reasonable prospects of renewal to be taken into account in assessing compensation.

Mr Brown added that, for the time being, the Government had deferred a decision on the Law Reform Commission recommendations for the payment of compensation for injurious affection where no land is taken pending consultation with State Governments.

After the new Bill is introduced the Government would allow for public comment, the Minister said.

Senator Evans said that the proposed Bill demonstrated once again the Government's commitment to constructive law reform and its concern that Law Reform Commission Reports should be implemented unless a strong case against implementation could be made out.

30 September 1983

Canberra A.C.T.