Review of the Lands Acquisition Act 1989

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 conducted a public review of the LAA (the Review) during 2020 and 2021 to look at how it could be improved to best support the Commonwealth and other interest holders into the future.

Outcomes of the Review

The Finance Minister issued a media release on 17 August 2021 releasing the Review Report and announcing that the Government had accepted all recommendations in full.

The Review made 16 recommendations for targeted legislative, policy and administrative reforms to deliver a streamlined and more efficient Commonwealth lands acquisition framework.

Changes to the legislation will not be retrospective

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 has asked the Department of Finance (Finance) to conduct a review of the LAA, including public consultation, 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.

Submissions received:

Submissions are now closed.

Background

Publication of Submissions

Submissions have been made available on the Finance website, unless the submitter has indicated that they would like all or part of their submission to remain in confidence. Submissions made anonymously or under a pseudonym may also be published unless the submitter has indicated that they would like all or part of their 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.

Confidentiality

Authors of submissions were asked to provide clearly marked confidential material in a separate attachment to the submission or to provide instructions if their submission was to remain in confidence.

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

Information required for submissions

Authors of submissions were asked to include the author's name, contact details, and, where appropriate, the organisation making the submission to assist Finance in contacting authors to clarify confidentiality or content, if required.

Submissions to the review were able to be made anonymously or under a pseudonym. In these circumstances Finance was not be able to contact authors to clarify their submission.

Information of third parties

Authors were asked to not include personal, legal or business information from third parties unless they had sought consent from the affected individuals. Finance may not consider information relating to third parties if their consent had not been provided with the submission.

Privacy Collection Notice

Consistent with the Privacy Act 1988, the Department of Finance collects, uses and discloses 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 authors in relation to their submissions, and, unless otherwise agreed, may be published on the Department of Finance website. Personal information may be disclosed to other parties where it was agreed to or it is required or authorised by law. More information about how personal information is handled is available at Privacy Policy Summary page.

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