Review of the Lands Acquisition Act 1989

Submissions closed on Monday 19 October 2020.

Introduction to the Review

It is over 30 years since the commencement of the Lands Acquisition Act 1989 (the LAA), the key legislation used by the Commonwealth to acquire and dispose of interests in land. Over time, complex land acquisition processes involving compensation payments to landholders have become more difficult to finalise. The Government has therefore asked for a review of the LAA to look at how it could be improved to best support the Commonwealth and other interest holders into the future.

The Review will be undertaken by the Department of Finance (Finance), and will report to the Minister for Finance by the end of 2020. The report will outline recommendations for Government consideration in relation to legislative, policy and administrative reforms to the LAA.

Finance will consider relevant international and Australian best practice, and be informed by public consultation through submissions from interested parties in response to the Discussion Paper.

The Discussion Paper summarises key aspects of the LAA and its administration and asks questions to prompt discussion on reform options. The questions do not reflect Government decisions, nor are they guaranteed to form part of any recommendations for reform.

Changes to the legislation will not be retrospective. Any acquisition processes that commence before legislative changes occur will continue to fall under the existing LAA provisions. This will provide certainty for claimants, acquiring authorities and other persons involved in an acquisition process.

Terms of Reference

The Government is undertaking a review of the LAA to ensure it:

  • reflects community expectations around public sector responsiveness and timeliness;
  • minimises delay and uncertainty in finalising compensation claims with affected parties; and
  • minimises administrative costs and provides value for money.

The Review will consider the broad scope of operations and functions under the LAA, including administrative requirements. In doing so, it will consider matters such as, but not limited to:

  • how the LAA can best support acquisition and disposal of land by the Commonwealth for public purposes in a way that is fair and efficient to all parties;
  • whether the LAA legislation and associated guidance can be simplified to make it easier for all parties to understand and apply; and
  • how best to balance the main objectives of the Act with modern public administrative and legal principles.

The review will be guided by the principles of:

  • equity and fairness – ensuring affected interest holders are treated fairly (on ‘just terms’);
  • timeliness – ensuring community expectations around public sector responsiveness are met;
  • transparency – being appropriately accountable to Parliament and the public for the use of acquisition powers and management of land assets; and 
  • value for money – ensuring expenditure of public money on interests in land, and the management of land as a public resource, represents value for money.


Public submissions are an essential part of this Review. Your views will ensure community expectations of the LAA are understood and help inform the Government about changes that should be made to strengthen the LAA.

Your submission does not need to address all questions asked in the Discussion Paper. You may also wish to raise other aspects of the LAA not covered in the Paper. In general, we are interested in:

  1. your views on how the LAA and its administration is working, and
  2. what changes could be made to improve the LAA, particularly around the Review principles of equity and fairness; timeliness; transparency; and value for money.

Information required for submissions

To assist us in processing the submission, including if we need to contact you to clarify confidentiality or content, please include the author’s name, contact details, and, where appropriate, the organisation making the submission.

We note that you may submit a submission anonymously or under a pseudonym. In these circumstances we will not be able to contact you to clarify your submission.

Information of third parties

Please do not include personal, legal or business information from third parties unless you have sought consent from the affected individuals. Finance may not consider information relating to third parties if their consent has not been provided with the submission.

Publication of Submissions

Submissions will be made available on the Finance website unless you indicate that you would like all or part of your submission to remain in confidence. Submissions made anonymously or under a pseudonym will also be published unless you have indicated that you would like all or part of your submission to remain in confidence. Finance also reserves the right to not publish a submission or any part of a submission, including on the basis that Finance considers it does not meet the Terms of Reference.

Submissions received:

Confidential Submissions

If you would like part of your submission to remain in confidence, please provide clearly marked confidential material in a separate attachment to the submission or provide instructions.

Finance will endeavour to maintain your confidentiality subject to our legal obligations, including under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

Privacy Collection Notice

Consistent with the Privacy Act 1988, the Department of Finance will collect, use and disclose personal information provided in this form and the attached documents to facilitate the Review of the Lands Acquisition Act 1989. Personal information may be used to contact you in relation to your submissions, and, unless otherwise agreed, may be published on the Department of Finance website. Your information may be disclosed to other parties where you have agreed or it is required or authorised by law. More information about how we handle your personal information is available at

Key Dates

  • Submissions opened 13 January 2020 and closed 19 October 2020

Discussion Paper

Review of the Lands Acquisition Act 1989

Useful Links

Lands Acquisition Act 1989

Commonwealth Property Disposal Policy

Minister for Finance, Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann, Media release

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