Land Acquisition (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2019
The State Government has recently released the Land Acquisition (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2019 (Amendment Bill) which proposes to amend the Land Acquisition Act 1969 (SA) (Act).
The Amendment Bill seeks to improve the land acquisition process by implementing various legislative, operational and policy recommendations of the parliamentary Select Committee on Compulsory Acquisition of Properties for the North-South Corridor Upgrade.
We will continue to monitor progress of the Amendment Bill as it moves through the parliament. Once the legislation is passed, council staff involved in land acquisition will need to familiarise themselves with the new processes.
A summary of the key changes follows below.
Summary of key changes
Currently, matters that aren’t able to be settled through negotiation are referred into the Supreme Court for resolution. The Amendment Bill proposes to introduce a compulsory “settlement conference” step prior to referral into Court.
The conference must be convened by the acquiring authority, and a conference coordinator with prescribed qualifications will be appointed. The cost of the conference is to be borne by the acquiring authority. An offence will be created for a person who does not comply with a reasonable direction of a conference coordinator.
The Amendment Bill also provides for a valuers conference to be convened at the request of either party. The purpose of a valuers conference will be for the respective valuers to meet to resolve any differences of fact or opinion.
The Amendment Bill proposes to introduce a new head of compensation, known as a “solatium payment”. This will be a new, one-off payment to compensate a person for non-financial disadvantage or loss resulting from the need to relocate the person's principal place of residence. The payment will be 10 per cent of the assessed market value of the property or $50,000, whichever is the lesser amount.
In addition to compensation, the Amendment Bill will enable the acquiring authority to pay an allowance of up to $10,000 to an interested party for legal costs, valuation costs or other professional expenses associated with the acquisition process. Such a payment would be made in advance, to assist an interested party in their negotiations with the acquiring authority. The balance of any further reasonably incurred fees will be paid at the conclusion of the matter.
Transfer costs such as stamp duty and registration fees may also be paid by the acquiring authority to a land owner who purchases new land to replace the acquired land. Relocation costs may also be paid to a residential tenant.
The Amendment Bill proposes to change a number of practical and operational matters including:
- to require both acquiring authority and claimant to negotiate in good faith;
- to impose an obligation on claimants to respond to an offer of compensation within six months of the date of acquisition (and to enable a claimant to seek an extension of time);
- to provide for compensation moneys to be withdrawn from the Supreme Court Suitors' Fund within 24 months if not claimed within that period (but without affecting the claimant’s right to compensation);
- to allow offers of compensation to be varied up or down;
- to enable parties with an interest not exceeding $10,000 (of other dollar figure to be prescribed) to be paid directly without requiring payment into the Supreme Court Suitors' Fund.
Acquisition of underground land
Proposed Part 4A provides perhaps the most significant shake up to the Act in a bid to align land acquisition in South Australia with other Australian jurisdictions.
Importantly, Parts 2, 3 (with the exception of section 17), and 4 Division 2 of the Act, do not apply to proposed Part 4A. This includes such requirements as providing notice of intention to acquire, right to object, and entitlement to compensation. Instead, the acquiring authority may acquire underground land at any time through publication of a “notice of acquisition” in the government gazette. Compensation is not payable on the basis (presumably) that acquisition of underground land won’t interfere with the person’s use and enjoyment of the land.
What does this mean for acquiring authorities?
While not yet passed into legislation, the Amendment Bill poses to reform the way compulsory acquisition occurs in South Australia. If passed, acquiring authorities, land owners and interested parties will be required to familiarise themselves with the new processes.
For more specific information on any of the material contained in this article please contact Jack McPhee on +61 8 8217 1357/ firstname.lastname@example.org or Peter Psaltis on +61 8 8210 1297/ email@example.com.