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Friday, 15 June 1984
Page: 3209

Senator CHANEY (Leader of the Opposition)(9.49) —While the Minister, Senator Grimes, is considering that point, perhaps I may add briefly to the point made by Senator MacGibbon, which is important. Senator MacGibbon has pointed out that this is the only provision in the Bill for compensation, and it covers only the acquisition of property. Quite difficult questions can arise as to when property is acquired and when it is not. If, for example, the action of the Minister or of an authorised officer under this legislation had the effect of rendering a person's property unusable by him, we could get quite difficult legal questions as to whether acquisition has occurred. I am grateful to Senator MacGibbon for having drawn attention to the clause. I should certainly have done that because, I suppose in common with all honourable senators, I have had many representations about the potential difficulties which could arise here. In recent history, substantial enterprises have been under way and problems have arisen. I think of Portland, Olympic Dam and so on. With the best will in the world, one can get all sorts of situations where operations can be perhaps, held up, delayed permanently or temporarily, and so on.

Senator Chipp —Because doubt can be cast over the use of a property.

Senator Macklin —It is covered in the second reading speech in the Senate. An explanation of clause 28 was put into the second reading speech in the Senate, but not in the speech in the House of Representatives.

Senator CHANEY —Fine. What I am saying is that whatever explanation is given, I believe that this is another area of deficiency in the legislation. I do not believe that we can amend this very difficult legislation on the run. I simply say that it appears to me that clause 28 is manifestly deficient. I cannot think of any more important matter than that action which is taken in the public interest is paid for by the public. That is a principle which ought to apply in all these matters. I commend to the Government consideration of entirely more adequate provisions for compensation. I am sure that the Minister can give us an answer, but I do not think that there is a total answer within the framework of the legislation because it is defective in that it is confined to the acquisition of property.