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Thursday, 30 August 1973
Page: 723

Mr UREN (Reid) (Minister for Urban and Regional Development) - It disturbs me that a man of the calibre of the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) should in this House defend developers. I can give details to show that the honourable member was in fact in this House tonight quoting the case for the West Australian land developers. I am disappointed to think that an honourable member would speak in such a way knowing of the land speculation that is going on in that State, just as it is going on in every other State and capital city. The honourable member has criticised legislation that has been introduced by the Western Australian Government. I ask him to check the details. For example, the honourable member for Gwydir complained about the Land Control Bill which is in fact based on the industrial Development (Kwinana Area) Act which was introduced by the Liberal Government in Western Australia in 1952. 1 ask the honourable member to check his facts and not be a stooge for any organisation.

I have no wish to attack any honourable member in this House, but I ask them not to be used and to check, the facts before they use them. I am disappointed that the honourable member for Gwydir has been misguided on this matter. The attack he made is not unfamiliar to me. The points have been made before in a report by the Land Legislation Study Group in Western Australia. Despite its grandiose title this group is nothing more than a front for some very large land developers. It disappoints me greatly - indeed in the case of the honourable member it surprises me - that he would stand up in this House to carry the banner for land developers who have been exploiting our young people for so long. We know the real pressure that is being placed on young people. Under the guise of concern for individual freedom in general, the honourable member is in fact supporting the few - those few who have exploited the ordinary Australian whose only wish is to own his own block of land and to build his own house on it. This Government does not support those exploiters. Those who are now speaking about the rights of the individual should examine what choices are open to the individual or young married couples under the present system. What freedom do they have to choose where they want to live?

Does the honourable member or any member of this House doubt that the present system is inequitable? Can any honourable member doubt that the present system is inefficient? It is because of this that the Australian Government is trying to find ways to assist the States and local government to develop urban areas. The Land Control Bill which has been introduced in Western Australia is basically a Bill to provide for public acquisition of substantial areas of land for urban development. Under the Bill landholders will not be able to make speculative profits. This is the purpose of the Bill. That is the provision that the honourable member therefore is complaining about. Let me assure this House that this Government does not believe that speculative profits are just. Other members who persist in attacking this legislation apparently believe they are. Again the old bogy of centralisation is dragged out. We are charged with wanting to control urban development, with wanting to freeze land prices and with wanting to set up huge bureaucracies in Canberra. This is not just a facile argument; it is dishonest, and I say to the honourable member for Gwydir that it is dishonest. It is a bogy that has been dragged out in place of analysis.

I ask the honourable member to assess and analyse the situation and not bring out a bogy. Centralism is the bogy which has replaced the communism bogy of the past. Honourable members opposite have only hysteria and not facts. Both bogies are equally discreditable. There is no chance of control from Canberra, and the honourable member for Gwydir knows it. The whole problem of land prices is one in which the States have the power to provide some of the solutions - I emphasise the words 'some of the solutions'. The possibility of making urban development more efficient is an area where the States have the power to provide some of the solutions, and again I stress the words 'some of the solutions'. Up until now, they have not chosen to do so. Let there be no mistake about this. The Australian Government has no power to freeze land prices. I stress the point that we have no power to freeze or even to stabilise land prices. However, the States have the power to do both, if they desire to do so. We are urging them to take steps to stabilise land prices - that is, to introduce land price stabilisation legislation.

On 25 January this year the Liberal Premiers of New South Wales and Victoria, Sir Robert Askin and Mr Hamer, met the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and myself and the respective State Ministers. We argued and both Premiers agreed that legislation for land stabilisation in Albury-Wodonga should be introduced. We believe that this decision and the principle underlying it should be extended. I might point out to the House that, unlike the Western Australian developer, a number of large and progressive developers have welcomed our initiatives. This is no different from what had been happening here in Canberra for 50 years prior to 1 January 1971, until the honourable member for Gwydir, as Minister for the Interior and his Government destroyed this system and this legislation.

Discussions between my Department and all States have been under way throughout this year. We are offering the States the opportunity to do something about spiralling land prices. We are offering the States the opportunity to do something about the wasteful pattern of urban development in our major cities. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a working paper on the possible operation of land price stabilisation legislation which my departmental officers have used as the basis for their discussions with respective State officials.

Mr SPEAKER - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -


1.   Land price stabilisation legislation should indicate:

(i)   how land to be subject to land price stabilisation will be identified;

(ii)   the maximum period for which it will be affected; and

(iii)   the way in which the price or value at which it is to be stabilised is calculated.

2.   A twostage site determination process is envisaged, and the legislation should parallel this process:

(a)   as soon as possible, and in any event before any detailed development feasibility studies are undertaken, the general area where urban growth is being considered by the State Government should be proclaimed as a 'study area' and land price stabilisation legislation should apply to the study area from the date of proclamation for a maximum period of eighteen months or until the proclamation of a designated site as referred to in the next paragraph;

(b)   as soon as the growth area is identified by the State Government, a separate proclamation of the 'designated site' should be made. This proclamation should apply for a maximum of ten years.

Whereas the proclamation referred to in paragraph

(a)   is a contingent one announcing the intention to acquire some land within the study area if accelerated development is encouraged after feasibility studies and other factors have been taken into account, the proclamation of the designated site is an indication that land within that designated site will be acquired. The proclamation of the designated site should confirm that the acquisition program will involve compensation being paid at the formula price the calculation of which is provided for in the land price stabilisation legislation based on the date of the original proclamation.

In some cases it will be sufficient to make only a proclamation of the type referred to in paragraph

(b)   . The legislation should allow this.

3.   While the maximum period for the program of acquisition of the designated site will be determined . by the development program for the growth area thus nominated by the State Government, there should be two forms of safeguard in the legislation for individual landholders affected by the proclamation of a designated site:

(a)   Any landholder who can establish hardship should be entitled to have his land acquired immediately hardship is established (see the provisions in the Murray New Town Land Acquisition Act); and

(b)   During say the last two years of the period of acquisition declared in the second proclama tion, any landholder should be entitled to have his land acquired at the applicable formula price.

4.   The land price stabilisation legislation should set out a formula for the price to be paid for land acquired within a designated site. The components of the acquisition price should be:

(a)   the 'base value', that is, the value of the land at the date of initial proclamation (or for instance at the last quarter day before the date of the proclamation); and

(b)   A value increase factor expressed as a percentage of the base value.

This value increase factor should be tied to an index of inflation which the legislation should declare as the basic determination of the value added factor, while allowing such provision for adjustments to take account of the particular area involved as may be determined at the time of the initial proclamation.

Mr UREN - I thank the House. This document represents the basis of our discussions with the States to try to bring about some understanding and agreement between both parties. We in the Australian Government believe that this problem can be solved only in a spirit of co-operation at both levels. I ask all honourable members to examine this document.

When I hear complaints about the Federal Government seeking representation on State bodies and when I hear complaints about the Federal Government wanting to provide some conditions to its financial grants, I can only say that those who complain are asking the Federal Government to act irresponsibly. The Australian people do not expect any government to give money without also thinking about responsibility for the way in which it is spent. If any State does not want to accept the funds it is perfectly free to do so. These agreements with the States are bilateral.

The discussions which my Department is having with the respective States are designed to introduce a new system of urban development in Australia. This system, we believe, is more equitable and more efficient than the system that now exists. This Government not only supports, but wishes to promote, the freedom of individuals to choose and to be able to purchase their own home on their own block of land.

The last lie is this: The honourable member for Gwydir knew because I told him prior to the discussion of the statement I made about new cities that there would be loans and grants, that the loans would be at the long term Commonwealth bond interest rate, that in the early years the interest repayments would be deferred and that in the later years the interest would be capitalised. We believe that until such time as the land has started to pay for itself in the new cities, having interest repayments in the early years would be a burden on the people in those areas. We want the cities to be efficient and equitable. We want them to be places where people are not being subsidised by centralised government. Cities should be places where it is pleasant to live. This is our attitude because we do not want a repetition of the situation in Sydney where young people cannot buy a block of land for less than $10,000 or $12,000. We want to see young people acquire a block of land without putting themselves in bond for the rest of their lives.

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