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Friday, 27 July 1906

Senator KEATING (Tasmania) (Honorary Minister) . - I see no objection to staling affirmatively that "the person to whom damage is done shall be entitled to compensation. Sub-clause 3 of clause 25 states that nothing in the Bill shall take away the right of any person to compensation for damage.

Senator Millen - It does not say "nothing in this Act," but "nothing in this section."

Senator KEATING - That is a negative statement in one sense. It confers by implication upon the person the right to compensation fordamage occasionedto him, notwithstanding anything to the contrary which may appear in the clause. Probably we could meet Senator Symon's wishes if we adopted as nearly as it is applicable to this part of the measure, the words which we adopted in connexion with a similar provision affecting damage that may be occasioned by the resumption and subsequent abandonment of resumed land. That occurred in clause 20. We could make those words applicable to the conditions dealt withby Part III. of the Bill.

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South prefers that the alteration shall be made in the way he suggests, I will withdraw the amendment. I think the better course would be to introduce a new clause.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 23 -

When any public purpose is being carried out on any land, the Minister and all persons authorized by him may enter any land -

(a)   being within a distance of two hundred yards from the nearest boundary of the land on which the public purpose is being carried out ; and

(b)   not being a garden, orchard, or plan tation, attached or belonging to a house, or a park, planted walk, avenue, or ground ornamentally planted ; and

(c)   not being nearer to the dwelling-house of the owner of the land than a distance of five hundred yards, and may occupy the land so entered so long as may be necessary for the purposes of any works connected with the carrying out of the public purpose.

Senator Sir JOSIAHSYMON (South Australia [10.55]. - As this clause stands, it provides that when any public purpose is being carried out on any land there shall be power to occupy temporarily adjacent land. I think it a pity that the existing Act was altered in this respect, and that two clauses have been drawn in place of one section. Of course, the object of this clause is not that persons employed by the Commonwealth may go upon adjacent land and pitch their tents, but thatthey may occupy it for certain purposes. Under section 53 of the existing Act persons empowered by the Minister may occupy adjacent lands - so long as may be necessary for the purposes of any works connected with the carrying out of such public purpose, and may make use of the same for any of the following purposes, that is to say : -

(d)   for the purpose of taking earth by side cuttings therefrom;

(e)   for the purpose of depositing earth thereon ;

(f)   for the purpose of obtaining materials therefrom for the construction or repair of such works ;

(g)   for the purpose of forming roads.

The real object is to enable the authorities, when they are occupying land which they have acquired, to go upon adjacent land, say, to get gravel for railway construction purposes, compensation, of course, being paid. But clause 23 gives power to occupy adjacent land for any purpose unrestrictedly. It will be better to combine clauses 23 and 24, as they are in the ex- isting Act. Then we should have the benefit of the interpretation which has been put upon these powers as contained in Acts which have been in force in England and other parts of the British Empire.

Senator Best - Does the honorable senator say that clause 24 is not subject to the restrictions contained in clause 23?

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - No; clause 23 is not subject to the restrictions of clause 24.

Senator Best - Clause 23 is restrictive.

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - No; it is a clause which is absolutely unrestricted. That is, except for limitations which may be put upon the words " occupy the land so entered," the persons authorized by the Minister may enter for any purpose whatever. The real restriction is embodied in clause 24; but, as Senator Best will see, the two provisions are combined in section 53 of the existing Act, which-, as a whole, defines the limits on the occupation. Otherwise, under clause 23, questions might arise as to whether there was any restriction as to the occupation, of adjacent lands. Tlie intention is that the occupation shall only be for the purpose mentioned in clause 24; but:, whether that be so or not, that clause should be the guide as to the occupation of adjacent lands, not. necessarily the property of the owner of the land which is required, tout the property of some other person. That other person may be very seriously injured ; and we know that, in many such cases, the compensation is quite inadequate to the damage done. I therefore suggest that the two clauses should be incorporated as in the original Act. I also desire to call attention to what seems to be a restriction on the powers of the Commonwealth. According to the Bill, the power is conferred "when any public purpose is being carried out on any land," whereas the condition in the existing Act is, " when any land has been purchased or taken." Under the clause the power of the Commonwealth is limited to the actual carrying out of the public purpose; tout it seems to me that there ought to be power to occupy if necessary, as preliminary to the public purpose, not merely the land acquired, but adjacent land. Under the clause the powers of the Commonwealth cannot be exercised until the public purpose is being actually carried out. The object of the Bill is to give the fullest power possible to the Commonwealth ; and it would, therefore, be advisable to adopt the words of the existing Act. I move -

That the words, " When any public purpose is being carried out on any land," lines 1 and 2, bc left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words, " Where any land has been purchased or taken under this Act for any public purpose."

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