Reforms to improve and clarify private property rights will be introduced into State Parliament today to ensure landowners are properly compensated when public works are carried out on their property by the State Government.
Premier Colin Barnett said the Land Acquisition Legislation Amendment (Compensation) Bill 2014 would be introduced into Parliament today, delivering on an election commitment.
This Bill will ensure the full impact of taking an interest in land – such as purchasing it, taking an easement over it or leasing it – was reflected in the amount of compensation awarded.
Mr Barnett said the Bill, which he emphasised was a first step in reinforcing private property rights, related to the actions Government agencies took when providing essential services, such as putting in power lines, water pipes, communications cables or roads.
“The legislation will ensure the property rights of landholders – including pastoral leaseholders – are taken into account when Government decisions are made, and that those decisions are fair and transparent,” he said.
“It will expressly require just compensation to be paid in cases where an interest in land is acquired for public works where there is loss of amenity, value of enjoyment, or changes in the aesthetic environment of land.
“There will be greater consistency across legislation which enables the Government to obtain an interest in land, while taking into account the needs of service providers and the community.”
The Premier said the Bill would also encourage utilities to use land already owned by Government, rather than acquiring interests in privately held or leased Crown land.
“Costs that are currently imposed on landholders will be appropriately transferred to the Government authority undertaking the work,” he said.
Attorney General Michael Mischin said the Bill amended the Land Administration Act 1997 – the principal legislation used for the compulsory acquisition of, or taking of an interest in, land in Western Australia – to expressly include a requirement that a person be entitled to compensation for an acquisition of their land on just terms.
“Legal recognition and protection of the rights of private property owners is the foundation of our society and fundamental to our economy,” Mr Mischin said.
“The Government is determined to address some long-recognised shortcomings of our current legal framework to protect these rights for all landholders.”