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Friday, 27 July 1906

Senator KEATING (Tasmania) (Honorary Minister) . - The existing section deals with the compensation to be paid for the value of any crop or dressing, as well as for any damage of a temporary nature. In the clause under discussion we make specific provision for the Commonwealth to pay to the owner of the land rent for temporary occupation.

Senator Millen - No time is mentioned within which the rent is to be paid.

Senator KEATING - In the existing Act the time limit of one month; is left out in regard to rent'. We provide in a subsequent clause that the amount of rent shall be settled by agreement between the Minister and the owner or occupier, or, if no agreement is made, by any Court having jurisdiction to entertain1 an action for compensation. It is obvious that if the Minister enters into temporary occupation, you cannot say that, from his actual entry, one month shall be allowed him for the payment of rent. It might be that he would occupy the property for a long or for a short period ; and it might be that, in other circumstances, he would pay a lump sum agreed upon by himself and the other interested parties. It would be inexpedient for us to lay down a hard-and-fast rule that rent should be paid within one month. In the existing Act it is simply provided, so far as rent for temporary occupation is concerned, that it shall be paid half-yearly or quarterly, as the case may require. So far as damage , is concerned, whether it be by way of injury to a crop or otherwise, we deal with compensation generally in Part IV. of the Bill. Clause 32, subclause 1. is very wide and general. Under it, any damage of any kind occasioned to an individual by the occupation1 of his land would be recoverable by him. It reads -

Where, by reason of the execution of any powers under Part III. of this Act, the owner or occupier of any land suffers damage, he shall be entitled to compensation under this Act.

Senator Clemons - Is there not a definition of the nature of the damage which imposes a limitation?

Senator KEATING - No. I think that any damage which might be suffered by reason of the exercise of any of the powers given under Part III. would be properly the subject of a claim for compensation. The damage is not necessarily confined to any alteration in the character or nature of the land. The removal of crops, the preven tion of sale, the prevention of letting to a tenant, or anything of that character, would clearly come within clause 32, and be damage occasioned by the exercise of the powers of the Bill in that respect. The persons injured would; be entitled to claim compensation. I think that the amendment indicated bv Senator Millen would be hardly appropriate ; but, if it were necessary, it might be set out more distinctly in clause 29 that rent shall toe paid quarterly or half-yearly, as the case may be.

Senator Millen - There is a limit in the existing law to insure that the payment shall be prompt. I am not wedded to a month, but it apears to me that there may be delay unless there is some obligation upon the Commonwealth to pay promptly.

Senator KEATING - Probably we could insert words in sub-clause 2 to provide that the rent shall be paid quarterly or halfyearly. Otherwise there would be no means of ascertaining from what point of time the month should run.

Senator Dobson - Why not provide that the Court may allow interest on rent?

Senator Millen - The Court limits the amount to 3 per cent., an utterly inadequate rate.

Senator KEATING - We could make provision that interest should run on the rent if it were not regularly paid.

Senator Sir JOSIAHSYMON (South Australia) [11.56]. - I will make a suggestion which may meet the point as to the elimination of the words of the existing Act, and will also meet the Minister's view. At the end of the clause giving compensation for damage in regard to temporary occupation we could add the words, " such compensation to include the value of any crop or dressing an the land."

Senator Keating - Clause 32 deals generally with compensation for the exercise of any powers given under Part III.

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - That clause is a reproduction in three lines of section 68 of the Land's Clauses Consolidation Act, and I doubt whether it goes to the extent that it ought to do. When we come to it I intend to suggest an amendment.

Senator Keating - I think it covers all damage.

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - It does not refer to temporary occupation. Section 68 of the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act extends to lands that are injuriously, affected by carrying out works. The provisions, we are discussing do not concern that subject. They refer to the power of temporarily occupying what are called adjacent lands. Therefore, the compensation under these clauses is not that covered by section 68 of the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act. The draftsman has inserted express provisions for damage in Part III. of this Bill, because it is like the compulsory leasing of adjacent lands not more than 200 yards away, for the purpose of being temporarily occupied. These provisions are in the nature of a contract. They have nothing to do with the injury caused, which would come under clause 32. There are three cases to be dealt with. There is first compulsory acquisition. Secondly, there' is damage in respect of injuriously affecting other lands by carrying out works. Then there is the third category which we are now dealing with - temporary occupation by virtue of statutory powers to enable us to get material and other facilties in carrying out work. That is mot injurious affecting, and the remedy is practically contractual.

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