Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 6 November 1973
Page: 1548

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (Western Australia) (Leader of the Australian Country Party in the Senate) - The Australian Country Party strongly opposes this Bill, which sets out to introduce a new basis for the assessment of compensation for land acquired in the Australian Capital Territory by the Commonwealth Government. My Party voices its opposition because the Bill seeks to circumvent the

Australian Constitution by scoffing at a long accepted lands acquisition principle, and because it places land owners in the Territory at a disadvantage compared with those in the States. The principle I refer to is laid down in section 5 1 of the Constitution. Placitum (XXX 1) of this section clearly states that when the Commonwealth acquires land it should pay for that land on just terms. I submit that there is injustice rather than justice in the Government's proposal regarding acquisition of land in the ACT. Furthermore the provisions of the Bill are made retrospective, so that any current claims over past acquisitions are rejected virtually by the stroke of a legislating pen.

The present position is that compensation for Australian Capital Territory land is determined in line with the terms of the Lands Acquisition Act 1955-66, which obliges the Commonwealth to take into consideration the 'just term' provision of the Constitution. It is obligatory on the States to heed this provision. Why should the Commonwealth be permitted to sidestep the provision through this piece of legislation?

The Government, we are told, has concluded that its rapid fall from popularity in the electorate is due to inadequate publicity for its actions and achievements. The truth is that a more widely and more deeply absorbed exposition of the vast majority of the Labor Government's actions in the past 10 months could lead only to a more violent fall from popularity than the opinion polls show to have already occurred. In this Bill the Government is trying to get off the hook. It is trying to free itself of the obligation to make a fair and just settlement when it compulsorily acquires land. The effect is that the occupier will not be compensated on the basis of the land's potential for subdivision into less than 40- acre lots and in addition will not be compensated for a business other than a rural business. Because of these provisions land owners are not entitled to be compensated for deposits of sand, gravel, blue metal, and so on or even minerals which are part of the potential value of the land.

The 'just term' provision of the Constitution has in the past been implemented and accepted in the Australian Capital Territory. Except in one case, where the lessee has sought determination by the courts, lease owners accepted compensation assessed on a basis of the price paid for 40-acre blocks in adjoining shires in New South Wales. The effects of proposed development of their leases was fully explained before acquisition and lease-back arrangements were negotiated where development requirements did not preclude it. Only in one case did the owner take his compensation and leave his land. In all other cases they remained as lessees.

The Senate should not be stampeded into changing a law which was designed to make it mandatory on the Government to acquire land on a give and take rather than a take-all principle. This is another classic example of Labor attempting to trample over people to get what it wants, and instances of that sort of socialistic government can be counted in dozens since last December. The Country Party sees this Bill as the thin edge of the wedge on land acquisition. The objectionable principles it contains can be expected to be repeated in legislation that will be introduced to facilitate land takeovers in the Commonwealth's planned growth centres. The Bill spells out a warning for all land owners in those areas. The Bill also could forshadow a situation whereby the Whitlam Government could manoeuvre itself into a position to take over not only land, at a price suitable to the Government and the Government alone, but also to take over mineral resources in the Northern Territory. The Australian Country Party opposes this Bill.

Suggest corrections