Cth land acquisitions framework to get red-tape treatment

Government-to-government property transactions will be streamlined under proposed legislative reforms agreed to by the Commonwealth this week.

The Federal Government has accepted all 16 recommendations of a review of the Land Acquisitions Act (1989) carried out by the federal Department of Finance in 2020-21.

Among other things, the review recommended that Section 40 of the LAA should be amended to enable interests in land to be acquired by agreement from state, territory, and local governments, including acquisitions of interests in land in a public park.

To support more efficient property disposal processes and outcomes, the review recommended the Commonwealth Property Disposals Policy (CPDP) should be amended to:

  • allow for land swaps between the Commonwealth and a state, territory, or local government where they support government policy outcomes or shared policy objectives; and
  • expand the exceptions for off-market and concessional sales under the CPDP to allow for off-market disposals, where they are an efficient, effective, economical, and ethical use of public resources:

In a statement, Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said the review found that most acquisitions occur relatively quickly, providing mutually agreed compensation to landholders.

“However, it also identified a subset of cases where landholders could benefit from more personalised support, firmer timelines and clearer guidance about the value of appropriate compensation.

“The reforms will also reduce red tape, simplify government-to-government land transactions, and ensure acquisition by agreement can occur for a broad range of public purposes, consistent with the power that the Commonwealth has under the Australian Constitution,” he said.

Changes to the legislation will not be retrospective.