The Rann Government has quietly implemented a major change in policy to encourage government departments to sell more land assets to help resolve budget problems.
Liberal Member of the Legislative Council Rob Lucas said today that senior executives of the Department of Environment and Heritage revealed the policy change in evidence to the Legislative Council Budget and Finance Committee.
Director of Business Services, Mr Rick Janssan, told the Committee:
“In previous years, there has been very little incentive for us to dispose of surplus property. The Government has revised its sale of surplus land circular – DPC Circular 114 – which gives some added incentive for agencies to dispose of property. Under certain circumstances, the agency is able to retain up to 50 per cent of any surplus land sale. So, again, that is giving us impetus to increase that revenue stream over time.”
“This was a major change to the previous policy, which gave all the money to Treasury,” Mr Lucas said.
“This change appears to have been implemented quietly without any public announcement or press release on such an important policy change.
“If the Rann Government is going to embark on a massive land sale, it is critical it has a long term, overarching land holding strategy.
“For example, a previous decision by a Labor Government to sell off massive parcels of land held along the South Road transport corridor will now cost taxpayers millions of dollars as land is repurchased at greatly inflated property values.”
Transport Department executives have revealed to the Budget and Finance Committee that up to 50 per cent of the total cost of projects like the South Road/Anzac Highway project were now spent on property acquisition costs. Their estimate was that about $50 million of the total $118 million project cost was spent on property acquisition.
“Mr Rann should now reveal publicly all the land sales that have been undertaken since the policy change and all the land sales proposed for the budget forward estimates years,” Mr Lucas said.
“If Mr Rann won’t come clean on this issue and be publicly accountable, then the Budget and Finance Committee will need to pursue the facts with all departments.”