Brickmakers Point Landslip Act 2021 Assented in Tasmania
Tuesday 4 May 2021 @ 12.26 p.m. | Legal Research
On 24 March 2020, the Brickmakers Point Landslip Bill 2020 (Tas) (‘the Bill’) was introduced to the Tasmanian House of Assembly on 24 March 2020 by Minister for Environment and Parks Roger Jaensch (‘the Minister’). The Bill passed through Parliament and received assent on 22 April 2021 as the Brickmakers Point Landslip Act 2021 (Tas) (‘the Act’). The Act is yet to commence.
The purpose of the Act is to:
“make provision for the purchase by the Crown of certain land, and improvements, affected by earth movements at Brickmakers Point in Deviot in the West Tamar Council municipal area, and for related purposes”.
In his second reading speech, the Minister stated that the Act arose out of “compassionate grounds”, after the Brickmakers Point landslide at Deviot in Northern Tasmania caused severe damage to five properties in 2016. The Minister acknowledged that the landslide “has taken a substantial toll on these property owners – both financially and emotionally”, and continued on to assure the Tasmanian Parliament that the Bill was not introduced as a result of any legal liability, but rather out of compassion for the owners. According to the Minister, “one property has been rendered uninhabitable, and the others have all been subject to varying degrees of structural damage”.
Financial Assistance for the Owners of Affected Properties
The Act provides a legislative framework for the delivery of financial assistance to the owners of the five properties, as defined by the Act. This financial assistance will operate so that owners may “apply to have the Government make an offer to purchase their properties”. The Act also legislates for the value of these offers. Under the Act, offers are to be made at “75 per cent of the relevant property’s pre-landslip value, with that value to be calculated as though the property had not been impacted by landslide in 2016”.
Response from Owners of Affected Properties
In an ABC News article published after the Bill was first introduced an owner of an affected property was quoted as describing the 75% offer as “ridiculous”. The article also provided a quote from another owner of an “uninhabitable” property who stated:
“It would actually put our family in a worse position today to accept a 75 per cent valuation of four years ago, so why would we accept it?”
However, in his second reading speech, the Minister emphasised the fact that this legislative scheme is a “voluntary, ‘opt-in’ scheme”. He continued:
“There will be no compulsory acquisition of properties. Owners will not be compelled to apply for assistance, and where they do apply for assistance, they can then refuse the Government’s offer if they so choose”.
As part of the legislative framework, the Act also indemnifies the Crown and the West Tamar Council against any future action for damages once an owner has accepted the Crown’s purchase offer. The Act also indemnifies the Crown and the Council “in relation to actions taken in good faith to manage or mitigate landslide on, or in the vicinity of, an affected property”.
The Minister acknowledged that the following agreements have been made in relation to the legislation:
The price of purchasing any affected property would be equally split between Government and the Council;
Ownership of any acquired properties would be transferred to the Council;
Any demolition and/or remediation costs would be funded by the Government; and
After any demolition and/or remediation, the Council would have sole responsibility for ongoing land management in and around the area affected by the landslide.
After the Act commences, owners of the damaged properties may apply for their properties to be purchased. This reflects the Minister’s hope, as he concluded in his second reading speech, that “those property owners who wish to move on and rebuild their lives elsewhere can be given the opportunity to do so”.
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Brickmakers Point Landslip Act 2021, Bill, second reading speech and explanatory memoranda available from TimeBase’s LawOne service