Improved acquisition process to give landowners a fairer go

Published 18th October, 2016

Homeowners whose properties are needed for public infrastructure will be given more information, more time, more support, and almost $50,000 in additional compensation under a major overhaul of the land acquisition process in NSW.

NSW Premier Mike Baird today joined Minister for Finance, Services and Property Dominic Perrottet to announce the reforms, unveiled as part of the NSW Government’s response to reviews by David Russell QC and Customer Service Commissioner Mike Pratt.

The reforms deliver a fairer, more balanced and more transparent acquisition process from start to finish, including:

  • Dedicated case managers to help landowners understand their rights
  • A 6-month period before the compulsory process commences, to provide a clear opportunity for landowners to agree a fair amount of compensation
  • Increased compensation of up to $75,000 (up from $27,235) for the inconvenience and stress of having to move home backdated to February 2014
  • Removing the requirement for property owners to pay rent during the three months they are entitled to remain in the property after it is compulsorily acquired
  • A first right to repurchase the acquired property if is no longer needed
  • Giving the Minister for Finance, Services and Property responsibility for general oversight of acquisitions across Government
  • A new ‘Property Acquisition Standards Group’ in the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation, to set whole-of-government standards for acquisition processes and resources and better track acquisitions
  • A whole-of-government Centre of Excellence for Resident Engagement in Transport for NSW to train government staff involved in acquisition, focusing on landowners’ needs and proactively providing advice and assistance

Mr Baird said the NSW Government would implement the majority of Mr Russell and Mr Pratt’s recommendations and go further on a number of recommendations, including increased compensation.

“These reforms ensure we have a process that is generous and fair and opens the lines of communication between homeowners and authorities,” Mr Baird said.

“We are getting on with the job of building the infrastructure that’s desperately needed across NSW and while it’s inevitable there will be some displacement, we will ensure we give home and business owners a fair go.

“These reforms will increase the amount of information, time and support provided to landholders and increases compensation to become the fairest and most generous scheme offered anywhere in the country.”

Mr Perrottet said the NSW Government had taken the opportunity provided by the reviews to rethink the acquisitions process, putting the landowner at the centre.

“We are determined to put people at the centre of everything we do, and I am pleased to say that after hard work across a number of departments and agencies, we now have a more sensitive and supportive acquisition process than ever before.”

“The infrastructure we are building is desperately needed across the state, but we need to balance that better with landowners’ rights. That’s why in some cases we’ve gone further than both reviews have suggested.”

While the Russell Review made recommendations to improve the compulsory land acquisitions process, it also found the process was generally sound, with the majority of compulsory acquisitions achieved in agreement with the landholder.

Legislation to implement a number of the reforms is expected to be introduced to Parliament this week.

More information about the NSW Government’s reforms of the land acquisition process can be found at www.landacquisition.nsw.gov.au

Published 18th October, 2016