The Morrison Government has today released the Review of the Lands Acquisition Act 1989 (the LAA) and has accepted all 16 recommendations in full.
The LAA regulates how the Commonwealth can exercise its constitutional powers to acquire and dispose of interests in land for public purposes (such as major infrastructure) and protects the rights of landholders.
Minister for Finance Simon Birmingham said the review was informed by public consultation over an extended period and aimed to bring the Act up to date with best practices that have emerged in other jurisdictions.
“Overall, the review found that most acquisitions occur relatively quickly, providing mutually agreed compensation to landholders. However, it also identified a subset of cases where landholders could benefit from more personalised support, firmer timelines and clearer guidance about the value of appropriate compensation,” Minister Birmingham said.
“The Government has accepted in full, all 16 recommendations for targeted legislative, policy and administrative reforms to deliver a streamlined and more efficient Commonwealth lands acquisition framework.
“Reforms will also reduce red tape, simplify government-to-government land transactions, and ensure acquisition by agreement can occur for a broad range of public purposes, consistent with the power that the Commonwealth has under the Australian Constitution.”
The reforms will:
- provide personalised case management support for affected landholders to help them navigate the process, understand their rights and lodge any claim;
- set deadlines to provide timely results, including requiring the Commonwealth to offer compensation within six months and paying 100 per cent of its offer then, followed by a deadline on the landholder of a further 12 months for either acceptance, or counter-claim (which may be mutually extended);
- double the amount paid by the Commonwealth for emotional loss where it acquires a principal place of residence (from $24,000 to $50,000) and triple the amount (to $75,000) for acquisition of either a multigenerational home or a home-based business address;
- refresh guidance on factors that can be considered by the Commonwealth to determine a reasonable sum of compensation, starting with market value and including all relevant forms of loss, supported by appropriate evidence or evident from the circumstances; and
- improve data capture on acquisitions and disposals, to ensure consistency in treatment of landholders.
Implementation of recommendations is currently underway, including drafting of legislative amendments.
Further details of the Review can be found at: https://www.finance.gov.au/publications/reviews/review-lands-acquisition-act-1989