The Lands Acquisition Act 1989 (LAA) is an important component of the Commonwealth Property Management Framework, and applies to most acquisitions and disposals of interests in land by the Commonwealth. The LAA also applies in relation to applications to access Commonwealth land for mineral exploration and mining activities.
The Minister for Finance has portfolio responsibility for the administration of the LAA, and has delegated a number of functions and powers under the LAA to officers within the Department of Finance and other Commonwealth entities.
The acquisition or disposal of an interest in land must be authorised under the LAA, either by the Finance Minister or a delegated official, unless the transaction is exempt from the operation of the LAA.
The Minister has authority to delegate powers and functions under section 139 of the LAA.
The Commonwealth is able to compulsorily acquire land or an interest in land anywhere in Australia for public purposes.
The LAA provides specific powers to the Commonwealth to acquire interest in land and also provides a regime designed to protect an owner's interests when the Commonwealth acquires an interest the owner holds in land. A property holder can claim compensation from the Commonwealth as soon as the land has been acquired by compulsory process.