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Land Acquisition Amendment Bill 2018 - Second Reading

6 August 2019

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Madam Deputy Speaker, I indicate that the Greens will not be opposing the Land Acquisition Amendment Bill 2018, but I want to make a few comments about the amendments as part of my contribution. Obviously, one of the more significant shifts in the amendment bill has been to make sure that the principal act covers not only subject land but any part of the subject land that is compulsorily acquired by government or indeed examined for compulsory acquisition and if a case is put for compensation it could be in relation to part of the land that is being compulsorily acquired.

It has been an absolute revelation, as someone who loves the English language and good grammar, to see some of the amendments we are dealing with today. It is amazing that legislation as solid as the Land Acquisition Act, which has been in place in Tasmania for some decades, has clauses in it with nonsense words like 'claim for' rather than 'claim for' and 'must obtain' rather than 'must obtain'. I am stunned that those typographical errors were allowed to sit on the books for so long. How did the original bill make it through the process of checking to see whether there had been any errors in transcribing the text in the legislation or in the interpretation of the text as it was amended after it went through both Houses? The Land Acquisition Act is reasonably solid legislation but the fact that we could be here talking about some of these typos is interesting.

This bill clarifies the powers of entry and examination for people authorised to go onto a person's private land to ascertain whether that is land that government would seek to compulsorily acquire. Perhaps the minister could provide some clarification as to whether the powers of entry and examination under this amendment bill also apply, for example, to private contractors such as UPC, who have written to landowners in the north-west along the proposed transmission lines flagging the prospect of acquisition of private land under the Land Acquisition Act?

Can the minister confirm that the powers of entry and examination that are clarified today also apply to private operators, for example? Can an employee of UPC, as an example, be an authorised officer for the purposes of the Land Acquisition Act? Can an employee of the Mount Wellington Cableway Company be an authorised person for the purposes of this act in order to make assessments about the pinnacle land that, under this Government, will go to the Mount Wellington Cableway Company if the Hobart City Council approves the Mt Wellington cableway? It is absolutely necessary for the House to be reminded that, in an act of legislative bastardry, the Mt Wellington cable car -

Mr Jaensch - Is that parliamentary?

Ms O'CONNOR - I think it is parliamentary. I thought about it for about a third of a second before I said it and I thought it might be parliamentary.

Mr Jaensch - Bastardry?

Ms O'CONNOR - Yes. Why do you not compound the unparliamentary-ness of it, Mr Jaensch?

Mr Gutwein - Are we considering bastardry?

Ms O'CONNOR - You are jumping on the bastardry bandwagon, are you? I do not think it is unparliamentary. It is a quite often used term for a dastardly act. What was that, Mr Jaensch?

Mr Jaensch - No, that is dastardly. You're mixing up your b's and your d's.

Ms O'CONNOR - Dastardly?

Mr Gutwein - Yes, not bastardry.

Ms O'CONNOR - Not, but it was legislative bastardry and it was a dastardly act. Thank you, minister, for helping to clarify my thoughts.

For the purposes of the Land Acquisition Act, the Mt Wellington cableway facilitation bill of 2017, supported as it was by the Labor Party, described the footprint of the proposed development site on the pinnacle as public infrastructure for the purposes of the Land Acquisition Act. There is nothing public about a private company building a private cable car up to the top of a public protected area, as the Wellington Park is. There is no justification. There continues to be no justification for using the Land Acquisition Act to give the pinnacle to the Mount Wellington Cableway Company, should their project be approved by the Hobart City Council.

There is nothing public about a cable car built by a private company. The public benefit of the cable car cannot be argued. We do not know if there will be a public benefit. The proponents tell us that there will but there will be a public negative for those many thousands of people who love the mountain exactly the way it is. They love kunanyi and, as we saw from the almost 7000 people who gathered in the foothills of kunanyi on 6 May last year, people feel passionately about the mountain and they regard it as their shared common wealth, which it is. It is the common wealth of all Tasmanians. It is a place of extraordinary cultural significance to the first people and, despite the pleas of the Aboriginal community to the proponent, to Mr Groom when he was minister, to Mr Gutwein, to the Premier, not to desecrate the mountain, we still had legislation go through this place in November 2017 that used and abused the Land Acquisition Act in order to facilitate a private development and allow for the compulsory acquisition of public land at the pinnacle of kunanyi Mt Wellington.

Dr BROAD - Point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker, I draw your attention to the state of the House.

Ms O'CONNOR - Let the Hansard record show that Dr Broad is on his own in here.

Mr Jaensch - And half of the Greens are here.

Quorum formed.

Ms O'CONNOR - Before Dr Broad called the quorum to which no Labor member appeared, I was speaking on the Land Acquisition Amendment Bill of 2018. I was asking the minister if section 18 of this act, which amends clause 54 of the principal act, defines the powers of entry of an authorised person onto land that may be subject of a land acquisition order. My question to the minister is, does this authority and clarification of the power of entry and examination also apply to employees of private companies like UPC Renewables or the Mount Wellington Cableway Company? It is an important question. Are we, through these changes, knowing that private operators can use the Land Acquisition Act in order to compulsorily acquire land, as UPC has indicated to locals on the north-west coast it can, and as we know as a result of the Mount Wellington Cableway Facilitation Bill there will be employees of MWCC who may be captured within this provision? I want some answers to those questions.

Also, minister, there has been a change to the amount of time that is allowed under the act to seek compensation for land that has been compulsorily acquired. I note it has gone from two months to six months. In broad terms certainly that is something we would be supporting. It allows extra time for affected landowners to seek redress through government but perhaps the minister could talk to that briefly.

I note these amendments make it very clear that if you have land the government is going to compulsorily acquire for any particular purpose - and I gather now it is not just government - you cannot as part of your compensation pitch point to a Hydro pole or some TasNetworks infrastructure and add that to your assessment of the value of the land that was acquired. That is a reasonable provision as well but perhaps the minister could answer those particular questions relating to MWCC and UPC and what powers they or their employees may have under the act to enter private property.

Are you the stocking-filler today, Mr Tucker? Where is your script? Did they not give it to you?