Select Committee on Compulsory Acquisition of Properties for North-South Corridor Upgrade

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY (Leader of the Opposition) (23:23): I rise to make a few brief comments in relation to the Select Committee on Compulsory Acquisition of Properties on the North-South Corridor Upgrade. It is an interesting topic. We have progress. I think everybody is happy that, after many decades of traffic congestion, we are seeing some significant upgrades on the north-south corridor. But, of course, with progress there are always landowners who feel like the system has worked against them and they have not been fairly compensated or fairly dealt with. We had a number of witnesses who felt that they had been harshly done by and one particular family that I recall who had a large, four-bedroom house on quite a large block on South Road. They believed they were entitled to a similar property in the same suburb. Of course, it is very hard.

As you would appreciate with a large property—a big family home with a number of bedrooms, a big garden and chickens in the backyard—its value on a main road is significantly less than if it was back in the suburbs a bit. So they had this property, and they were very happy to live on a main road and suffer the noise and inconvenience because they wanted a big property. When it is compulsorily acquired, it is valued at a certain price. They are then offered another house in the same suburb at that same price, but of course it does not offer the same amenity. Then when they look for another house of that size on a main road, it is often a long way from the suburb they are in.

I felt for that family. They had chickens that they had to have destroyed because they could not take them to the new property. The children were distraught and the parents were upset, and I can understand the real concerns of the price of progress. There needs to be better management of people when dealing with these projects. We do want progress, but we do not wish to have people stalling out. Of course, we cannot have one person or two or three house owners holding the progress of the state to ransom.

We heard of some other examples where things were done poorly, such as negotiations. There is always two sides to every story. Maybe information was not shared in an appropriate way, or maybe the advice given to people whose property was being acquired was not given in an appropriate manner and transparently enough. There were some significant issues, and certainly it is important that the government takes into consideration the report from the select committee because it is very important that we try to get these things right.

I must also make the comment that we had some land set aside for a north-south corridor in the MATS plan, but of course the Labor Party sold that so we could never have a freeway through the suburbs. Again, that was a very short-term political gain that now means that we have a huge expense to build this road through the city, and there is also the pain of people having to be relocated. In some cases, businesses have not been able to get the business amenity they would have liked. But it was an important inquiry.

I thank all those who gave evidence, and I thank the Hon. John Darley for bringing the motion to the chamber to have the inquiry. I look forward to the government, in the very short period of time before the next election, responding to that particular report. Or, if we have the good fortune of being in government after the next election, I hope that the responsible minister takes notice of that report.

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