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DPTI's Negotiations with Farmers over a Land Swap Deal

Radio News Broadcast

John Darley, Independent MLC (5AA 9.34-9.41) DPTI’s negotiations with farmers over a land swap deal / Onkaparinga Council building approval issue

(Byner: One of the things we try to do on this show is give you good information so that if something ever happens where you get bullied by either a company, a corporate or a government department you know what you are entitled to and … what you can do about it … a constituent has had part of their land compulsorily acquired for the Northern Connector for over a year and DPTI have been negotiating on the terms that there’ll be a land swap rather than just monetary compensation. Now, this is necessary because the land is being farmed and the land is not viable as a farm without replacement land. Now, John Darley … approached DPTI’s CEO about this issue who very clearly said they wanted the issue fixed and suggested a meeting with DPTI, constituents and John Darley to discuss a resolution. Now, late last week DPTI wrote to the constituent’s lawyers with an updated offer which stipulated that instead of a land swap the constituents would have to purchase the land otherwise it would be offered for sale on the open market. Now, this is a complete departure from the negotiations thus far and shows DPTI are not negotiating in good faith. Do you hear that, Mr Mullighan? Your department is not negotiating in good faith. Now, constituents have made personal and business decisions based on DPTI’s offer of a land swap for the past year. The revised offer totally jeopardises this. The land is virtually worthless to anybody else due to location and size. It adjoins the constituent’s existing farm and will allow the farming business to continue. And right now what do we need – food … a meeting was set up but DPTI staff refused to engage in the meeting because John Darley was present. Now, I have a message for you, DPTI: when the late Dr Bob Such was Speaker he used to say to me regularly that every citizen of SA has the right to approach an MP without fear or favour and any interference in that relationship is a potential breach of privilege. Do you understand that? Let’s talk to … Johyn Darley … any more on this?) … nothing at the moment but I can say that I have reasonably regular meetings with Michael Deegan the CO of DPTI on a whole range of matters … and three weeks ago when Michael Deegan came over he made it quite clear to me that he wanted this matter fixed and he wanted it fixed very quickly because it was holding up the development of the Northern Interconnector. So it was agreed that my office would be – we’d approach the dispossessed owners and their lawyers on this matter to see whether a meeting could be arranged and we’d attend. That was agreed to by the dispossessed owners and the lawyers and a meeting was arranged for last Monday. We arrived there and when DPTI and Crown Law arrived, the moment they saw that we were there they refused to have the meeting. (Byner: On what basis?) Just the fact that I was there. Now, that’s not their call … DPTI give directions or suggestions to Crown Law and Crown Law provide advice. Now, it’s not for DPTI or Crown Law to indicate who should be at the meeting. I mean the dispossessed owners and their lawyers are entitled to invite anyone to a meeting … the whole idea of a land swap was a good idea from the start but it’s dragged on for 12 months and when this … ultimatum was made that you could buy the land for … $400,000 or the land would be put on the market is absolutely ludicrous and all it will result in is the taxpayer paying a lot more than they would normally have to pay. (Byner: Can we fix this? … on my reading of what you’re describing, DPTI are interfering in the relationship between you and the constituent by not attending a meeting and a lawfully having you there to help represent them. That’s your job, for God’s sake.) Exactly and it’s not the first time it’s happened. (Byner: … they’d better pull their heads in because I’ve got a lawyer who is prepared to take this on already. I told somebody last night and they said … they can’t do this.) Well, what I’ve done … I’ve sent a letter to Stephen Mullighan the Minister for Transport outlining my concerns and I’ve sent a letter to the Premier so we’ll see what happens from there. (Byner: Alright, you keep us in the loop on this … there’s another story … I remember the caller … we have a guy who wants to change his windows, size and number of windows will stay the same but the frames will change from wood to UPBC which is fire retardant and used in high fire risk areas, and from single glazing to double or triple glazing. Now … his council say they’ll need to get a building rules consent and approval from CFS as they live in a high fire risk area and they want $500 for the approval. How is this not highway robbery?) Well it is and there’s a lot of misleading information here … because if you break a window … you call in the glazier to have it fixed. Now, what the Onkaparinga Council are saying is … you have to go and get building rules approval from them to start with. Now, you can imagine the time that will take. (Byner: So are you telling me the Onkaparinga Council are inventing the rules to suit themselves?) Well, they’re interpreting the rules the way they want it to charge … $500 to change these windows over and the outcome and is going to be that the windows are going to be more fire resistant than what they’ve already got. The other thing is that they did also say that if the windows were on the front of the house you’d have to get planning approval to change them. Now, you imagine a person who’s broken into … sitting around waiting for planning approval to fix the window. (Byner: … the only answer to this nonsense is to change the Local Government Act so that councils can’t do this kind of rubbish.) Well, I’ve made an appointment to speak to the Minister for Emergency Services on this because CFS are involved as well and the whole matter needs to be cleared up. I mean we had an issue that cropped up a couple of weeks ago where a tourism development – an application was made to a northern council for this development and it’s slap bang up against a cropping farm. Now, the council didn’t even … question the whole thing … we know the outcome of the Pinery fire and what that can do and … the CFS has strict buffer areas for those sorts of developments and yet the council didn’t even inquire about it. (Byner: … thanks for joining us today.)