New laws to empower land owners

The Marshall Government has released draft legislation that will empower land owners, accelerate the process and provide more compensation in the face of compulsory land acquisition around major projects.

The proposed amendments would clarify underground property acquisition should tunnels be adopted for part of the remaining 10.5km Torrens to Darlington stretch of the North-South Corridor.

The Land Acquisition (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill (the Bill) proposed to amend the Land Acquisition Act 1969 (the Act) in order to enact the recommendations of the 2017 Parliamentary Select Committee on Compulsory Acquisitions of Properties for North-South Corridor Upgrade.

Key proposed reforms include:

  • The inclusion of a ‘solatium payment’ of up to 10 per cent of the market value of the land or $50,000 (whichever is lesser) to compensate home owner occupiers for intangible and non-quantifiable disadvantages resulting from acquisition;
  • An allowance of $10,000, payable in advance, for professional costs relating to the acquisition (legal or valuation costs);
  • A requirement for all parties to act in good faith;
  • A requirement for land owners to respond to an offer of compensation within six months of the acquisition date;
  • Introduction of a compulsory settlement conference before legal proceedings can be commenced; and,
  • A new set of provisions required to clarify underground acquisitions.

“Compulsory land acquisition is unavoidable if we are going to keep growing South Australia and building roads and infrastructure with our $11.9 billion of works over the next four years,” said Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government Stephan Knoll.

“There’s no doubt the previous government dropped the ball in this space and there’s much room for improvement – that’s why we have drafted new legislation.

“Sometimes it can be a bit of a David and Goliath situation and the Marshall Government wants to better equip David throughout the negotiation process.

“That’s why we are empowering land owners by providing them $10,000 to get legal and other professional advice, introducing solatium payments and compulsory settlement conferences.

“Effectively we are giving land owners more resources and opportunities to negotiate through the process.

“We are also aiming to accelerate the process by shortening the acquisition timeframe.

“Compulsory land acquisition can be quite a stressful time on individuals, families and businesses and it should not have to drag out any longer than necessary.

“Excitingly, we are also proposing to insert new provisions to enable government to more efficiently acquire underground property as we contemplate tunnels as an option for the final 10.5km stretch of the North-South Corridor.

“Many of these measures exist in other states around the country and these proposed reforms, based on the 2017 Parliamentary Committee report, will bring South Australia in line with other jurisdictions.”

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