07/12/2004 - 21:00

Rights an election issue

07/12/2004 - 21:00


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THE property rights issue was firmly on the political agenda last week in Western Australia and across the country.

Rights an election issue

THE property  rights issue was firmly on the political agenda last week in Western Australia and across the country.

In WA, Opposition leader Colin Barnett released the Liberals’ property rights policy, while Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan announced the drafting of a new Bunbury Region Scheme.

Meantime, in Ballarat, Victoria, Mannkal Economic Education Foundation chairman Ron Manners used his keynote address at the Eureka Forum to attack govern-ments over property rights.

Mr Manners said that, in terms of lost production, lost opportunities and lost employment, the cost of delays in land access to the mining industry amounted to between $60 million and $90 billion during the past decade.

“But this isn’t the only attack upon property rights in Australia at the moment,” Mr Manners said.

“The same problems of access to resources are faced by farmers, fisherman, hunters, pastoral leasehol-ders and property developers across Australia.

“More often than not the problems of access for these people stem from State governments pandering to the wish-lists of environmental fundamentalists safely harboured in urban constituencies who have nothing to lose.

“The economic freedom and prosperity of Australia really is under threat by the various government-sponsored attacks.”

In Perth, Mr Barnett said a Coalition government would legislate to ensure property owners whose land use was restricted by the State received compensation for the loss of value of their land.

The Liberals’ position statement included that: land voluntarily acquired would be done so under the Land Administration Act, which gives provision for compensation; Bush Forever and other regional planning schemes would be reviewed; and where property was partly resumed, compensation would take into account the value of the property as a whole.

The State Government has come under fierce criticism for the Bunbury Region Scheme. Despite her earlier defence of the scheme’s fairness, and ruling out a review, Ms MacTiernan this week announced a new draft plan.

She said that, given removal of bipartisan support for the scheme and some landowner concerns about the implications of regional open space, the time was right to take the scheme back to the people.

“We want local people to have their say on how greater Bunbury should be developed and how we can best protect areas of recreational importance while minimising the impact on affected landowners,” Ms MacTiernan said.

The Pastoralists and Graziers association (PGA) said the Govern-ment’s promise meant nothing until it included the promise of adequate compensation for private landowners.

PGA property rights chairman Craig Underwood said the issue was not about planning, but the way bureaucrats used their planning powers.

“As it stands there is still no admission by the Government that the reservation/acquisition process is unfair to the landowners,” he said.

“And it is notable that the Government has made no reference to its dealings with more than 300 private landowners affected by the Peel Region Plan and thousands of others throughout the State.”

The Greater Region Action Body (GRAB), which represents affected landowners, was also not convinced, saying the Government’s move was solely due to the looming election.

GRAB is advocating for the removal of Regional Open Space zoning from private property under the Greater Bunbury Regional Scheme.


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