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State Government Compulsory Acquisition of Property

Radio Broadcast

John Darley, Upper House MLC (5AA 11.07-11.16) Laws surrounding State Government compulsory acquisition of property

(Byner: … a really important issue about infrastructure and the fact that … they’re going to upgrade a road … but we mustn’t forget that in that process there is the business of compulsory acquisition. There are rules that … are pretty fair. Only problem is we have a department that likes to make its own, that’s DPTI. It’s got to stop … there are many people … they have shown scant regard to shop keepers in many areas who are good people … the Department has been more than arrogant, it’s made undertakings to people and never kept them half the time … this sort of nonsense is made worse by what I’m about to tell you … I think it’s great that money can be spent to upgrade a road, build a freeway but we should not forget that people who’ve got properties and many of these people are small to medium businesses … they’re super isn’t in a fund somewhere, it’s actually in the shops and businesses … that they own and some of these people have been treated more than poorly. Now one guy … I have a tremendous amount of time for this next bloke … John Darley … tell us … you’re actually taking up the cajoles for a particular couple of people in this predicament and yet the rules in theory shouldn’t allow what DPTI have done.) … as you quite rightly said, the Land Acquisition Act of 1969 is fairly straight forward … where property is compulsory acquired, there’s a requirement for compensation to be paid on the basis of fair market value … the person gets the … market value of the property, they’re also entitled to certain other [unclear] of compensation like relocation expenses, stamp duty on purchase of a replacement property, reasonable valuation fees and reasonable legal expenses. Now, we all know that the moment the Government announces a plan whether it’s the north-south corridor … anything else … that’s going to require the acquisition of property, it immediately sterilises the market for those properties because there’s only one person that you can sell the property to and that’s the Government … there’s a number of cases … the EA Woollooms [phonetic] case which is a NSW case and the judge in his finding returned the view that any … adverse effect on the value of property due to the announcement of a plan is to be totally disregarded. There’s also from other case law that if there’s any element of doubt in deciding the market value of the property and there will always be that difference because valuation is not a precise science, well then the decision should be made … in favour of the dispossessed owner. Then there’s another case that talks about in decisions on compulsory acquisition, well then the amount of compensation is to err on the Liberal side whereas with rating and taxing matters, the decision of the valuation is to be made on a conservative nature. (Byner: Well why is this not happening here?) … what we learned during the, there was a select committee inquiry into compulsory acquisition and what we learnt is that the Department at no stage had worked out or researched the difference in value between say a house on a main road and a house one street back or two streets back … that varies … between 5 and 10% depending on where it was but I was amazed … that no-one in the Department had even though about this … if a house was going to be compulsory acquired, in most of Adelaide you have these stereotype houses … and if the property to be acquired was a bungalow, if you go one street back that’s not affected by the acquisition you can work out the market value of that, well then if you’ve done some research as to what’s the difference between values on the main road as to one street back, it’s a simple thing to work out what the difference should be and that just doesn’t seem to happen. (Byner: Well, can’t that be enforced?) Well it should be enforced but … not many of these cases go to court. (Byner: Well of course they don’t because people haven’t got the wherewithal to do that.) Well the thing is, they’re supposed to be compensated for that in any case but it’s like anything … in rating and taxing issues, if you had four court appeals a year out of 800,000 properties that’d be about as much as, and most of those would be resolved on the first compulsory court- (Byner: What did the select committee recommend?) Oh they recommended a number of things … one of the main recommendations was that … where a notice of acquisition is served on a property, well then the dispossessed owner has to make a claim within six months … they have to have a valuation made within six months. The longer this goes, the more drawn out it becomes, the worse it gets for dispossessed owners. (Byner: … have you spoken to the current Government about this?) Well, I’ve been trying to get a meeting with Stephan Knoll for at least six weeks and I still haven’t been able to get one at this stage. (Byner: … go to Rob Lucas … about this because … I think the public of this state have had enough of this ruling elite issue, you’re running a business, you can afford it, we’ll do what we want. Oh don’t bother about a lawyer, I’ve heard some shock cases on this. You and I are expected to obey the law, DPTI are no different.) Yeah … reasonable valuation expenses are paid for by the Crown and also legal expenses but what the Department of Transport does, they say, “Oh, we’re not going to pay legal expenses until the matter’s finalised”. Now … you have dispossessed owners going to lawyers and saying … “We want you to act on our behalf” and lawyers will say, “Well hang on a minute, when are we going to get paid?”. (Byner: John, I’m going to see how long it takes for you to get a meeting) It’ll be interesting. (Byner: But I’ll make one point, what you’ve described to me sounds like maladministration and that is a word which has come up a lot in the last couple of years. DPTI, be warned.)

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