Question asked in Parliament June 5, 2014
The Hon. J.A. DARLEY ( 15:08 :28 ): My question is to the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation. Can the minister advise whether his department had valuation advice from the Valuer-General, or a private valuer approved by the Valuer-General, as required by Premier and Cabinet Circular 114, before purchasing 1,680 hectares of land at Hanson Bay adjoining the Flinders Chase National Park and Southern Ocean Lodge for $1.98 million on 10 October 2012?
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation) ( 15:09 :20 ): I thank the honourable member for his most important questions about Hanson Bay and its purchase. One of the primary purposes, of course, of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 is to establish a system of reserves to manage land for conservation purposes. The government released a strategy called 'Conserving Nature 2012-2020: A strategy for establishing a system of protected areas in South Australia', which aims to add land to existing reserves where there are strong conservation outcomes to be achieved.
In late 2012, the government purchased 1,900 hectares of land, I am advised, at Hanson Bay on Kangaroo Island for $1.8 million. This is, I am also advised, an extraordinary piece of land that sits between two major parks: Flinders Chase National Park and Kelly Hill Conservation Park. This land presents a once in a lifetime opportunity to bridge a gap and to create a continuous coastal conservation corridor for the south-western end of Kangaroo Island. This is a significant and strategic addition to the state's reserves system. It is anticipated that the land will be formally added to the Flinders Chase National Park later this year.
The purchased land is largely undisturbed intact mallee and coastal heath vegetation, I am advised, that provides habitat for a range of threatened species, including the western whipbird, the rock parrot, the osprey and the white-bellied sea eagle. Its purchase will allow the integrated management of continuous land parcels across a number of parks and reserves, including fire management. It will also provide opportunities for recreation and tourism, supporting business opportunities from small operators through to the adjoining Southern Ocean Lodge at Hanson Bay.
With regard to some criticism—ill-informed criticism, I might say—about this purchase from March last year claiming, I think incorrectly, that the government purchased the land at a higher price than that which I listed and also claiming that the valuation was substantially less, I can confirm that that information is incorrect. I am speaking, of course, of the member for Davenport, Mr Iain Evans, who issued a media statement on 8 March 2013 claiming that the government purchased the land for almost $2 million and a valuation of only $800,000. Mr Evans, I am advised, has quoted incorrect figures for both the financial value of the land and the sale price.
With regard to the $800,000 valuation, that is likely to be an old value assessed by the Valuer-General, I am advised. The department commissioned an independent valuation of the land in 2008, which valued the land at $1.3 million, is my advice. In 2012, some four years later, DEWNR purchased the land for $1.8 million, not the $1.98 million claimed by the Hon. Mr Evans in the other place. I can also confirm that this purchase was a one-off strategic investment not impacting on funding arrangements for any other environmental program. Given the strategic placement of this parcel of land between two existing parks and the very rare occurrence of such land coming onto the market, it was a strategic purchase for the department and one that I strongly endorse.
The Hon. J.A. DARLEY ( 15:12 :37 ): I have a supplementary question. Was the private valuer who was commissioned to make the valuation approved by the Valuer-General?
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation) ( 15:12 :45 ): I will have to take that question on notice and seek a response from the department about the nature of the valuer who gave us that figure.
March 22, 2016
In reply to the Hon. J.A. DARLEY ( 5 June 2014 ). (First Session)
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Climate Change) : I have received this advice: