I rise to support the Land (Revocation of Reservations) Bill 2015.
This bill deals with seven pieces of land in Victoria.
It is the law in Victoria that permanent reservations over Crown land may only be revoked by an act of Parliament.
It is a usual part of government business for revocations of permanent reservations to occur, and Parliament has passed many acts like this in the past to deal with the sorts of anomalies that arise.
It is a relic of our history that in the past land was permanently reserved for particular purposes and usually public purposes, predominantly in the 19th century.
In modern times land is now reserved for public purposes and there are detailed planning laws that exist in relation to the uses of land in our state.
Four of the sites referred to in the bill were in a previous bill of the former government in 2014, which was not able to be finalised because of the intervention of the 2014 election. There are obviously a couple of very significant sites referred to here, one being the Albert Park land which will be used for a school. We have heard much about what will happen on that land from the previous speaker. The other is the Ballarat North land. It is a very significant event for an AFL team to come to Ballarat and make connections. The relevance of my speaking on this bill is in relation to one very small bit of land that is in my electorate at Waaia. The piece of land in question occupies only 0.2 of a hectare on the Broken Creek, east of Nathalia. The legislation will revoke a permanent reservation over this small area of land.
More than half of the house on a farming property purchased by Mr and Mrs McCreadie in 2007 was built on Crown land in the 1930s by the then owners. The current owners were unaware of this fact when they purchased the land in 2007; it subsequently became known to them when a survey was undertaken for other purposes in 2011. They are an older couple and wish to sell the land eventually. The current irregularity needs to be fixed, and this legislation will have the effect of providing a solution for the McCreadies. With the removal of the status of permanent reservation over the land, it will be possible for Mr and Mrs McCreadie to purchase the 0.2 hectare required by them at market value.
The staff of my electorate office have been in touch with Mr and Mrs McCreadie, who are naturally very pleased that they will be able to proceed to regularise their ownership with these arrangements. I take the opportunity to thank the minister and the minister’s staff for their assistance in briefing me and providing me with information in relation to the McCreadie’s situation. They have been in regular contact with me about this issue and will be very pleased when this legislation is given royal assent and they can proceed to regularise their situation.
It should be noted that in making this decision the government took into consideration the fact that the land is not normally accessed by the public, the encroachment was not intentional, there is evidence of a genuine error and the owners have dealt entirely appropriately in trying to rectify the situation by leasing the land in the meantime. Crown land is very important to us. It is part of the public space that everyone generally has access to but of course in this case it was not. It was considered that any alternative courses of action would indeed result in undue hardship for the current owners of the land.
The land at the North Ballarat Football Ground and the Cobram land fall into similar situations as the McCreadies’ land in that the revocation of the permanent reservation means that the current occupiers will be able to buy the land for their own purposes. The bill will similarly revoke permanent reservations over three other sites and re-reserve them. In the case of Caulfield Park and Wedderburn Mechanics Institute the new reservation will be consistent with the current use of the two sites, and a further reservation will provide for the future use of the Albert Park land as a primary school.
The remaining revocation of permanent reservation is for the purposes of providing legal access to freehold which has previously been achieved by using a track over the current reservation. The land is at Main Ridge Nature Conservation Reserve, and the negotiations surrounding this circumstance are such that there will be a net gain for the adjoining conservation reserve in the process of providing appropriate legal access to freehold land. Again, in that case there will be no detriment to the Crown landholding. I commend this bill to the house as it certainly solves a whole lot of small issues for some people and indeed sets up some big projects for others.