“Land owners Beware”                                      This is not a joke. A recent amendment to the Land Acquisitions Act allows any NSW council to compulsorily acquire any property it wants to and resell it to a developer for a profit.

The technicality is that a council only has to compulsorily acquire a road, and once this routine process has occurred, it can then compulsorily acquire any adjacent property or any property in the vicinity of that road. This could be your or a family member’s home and you will see none of the profit!

In other words, if you own a home or business near a council road, they need only to go through the formalities of acquiring that road before they can sink their claws into what is yours. Not only has the government removed all individual property rights in the state with this legislation, it has turned its nose up at the highest court in the land – the High Court of Australia – after five judges unanimously ruled that councils could not legally act in this way.

The truth behind the new legislation:

1.    Takes away the protection of individual property rights;

2.    Allows councils and government bodies to compulsory acquire an individual’s land (house, home, unit, investment or any other property) for resale at a profit;

3.    Ignores the potential value of land when compensating the dispossessed victim. Instead, the developers, councils and government bodies that undertake such acquisitions will be the ones to benefit from this value;

4.    Gives developers unfettered powers to acquire property and opens the floodgates for abuse of power and corruption just like we saw in Wollongong.

The NSW Government has stripped property rights from the people of New South Wales and trivialised the justice system in the process.

This new legislation goes against Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights set by the United Nations.This can be viewed here.

The background

This dangerous legislation that jeopardises the right of every property owner in New South Wales involves Parramatta Council’s deal with private developer Grocon to share the spoils of the $1.6 billion Civic Place development. Parramatta Council attempted to acquire a number of private properties by compulsory acquisition in order to resell them to Grocon as part of the Civic Place project.

On the 2nd April 2009 five judges of the High Court unanimously agreed that it was illegal for local government to use its powers of compulsory acquisition in this way. So, in a defiant snub to the High Court, Parramatta Council announced it would ask the New South Wales Government to introduce new legislation to overturn the decision.

Then, on 14th May 2009 an amendment to the Land Acquisitions Act was introduced and passed which allows local councils in New South Wales to compulsorily acquire roads, and then compulsorily acquire any adjacent property or any property in the vicinity of that road.

Councils already own 90% of the roads in the state. This means that any land that fronts a road or land that adjoins land that fronts a road can be taken by council and you have no right to stop them. If they don’t already own the road, the process for them to acquire it is straightforward.

Legal advice by the team that represented us in The High Court of Australia, Maureen Peatman, Chairman of Hunt & Hunt, and Bret Walker SC, one of the most eminent Senior Counsels in the country, has confirmed that all local councils in New South Wales now have this power.