Perpetual Leases

01 May 2013 questionsarchive

I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation a question about perpetual leases.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Perpetual leases can be surrendered and purchased as freehold but cannot be transferred. I understand that once land is classified as freehold the owner is then able to subdivide or transfer land at their own will. However, in order for the land to be purchased as a freehold title, the purchaser must complete an application and organise an adequate survey of the land at their own cost.

The government's policy on waterfront perpetual leases, where the landowner wants to surrender and purchase the same lease under a freehold title, now requires the landowner to surrender 'an adequate waterfront reserve'—with 'adequate' meaning a strict not less than 50 metres in width from the high watermark, pool level or cliff top. Will the minister answer the following:

1.Why are owners forced to undergo a vigorous and costly process in order to be able to transfer land?

2.Why do they have to pay for a survey of the land that they also risk losing without compensation?

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation) (14:36): I thank the honourable member for her most important questions in relation to freeholding of perpetual lease land. I understand that there is a requirement for the applicant to provide for adequate waterfront reserve. That is to protect the front part of the land from encroaching problems from rising waters, if it is the river, or encroachments from sea level changes. There has been an awful lot of public concern recently about bank collapses along the River Murray, and you don't have to go too far around the state to talk to people who have concerns about coastal erosion.

In the situation of perpetual leases, I think it is only proper that the government, in reconsidering the status of the land holding, provides for future changes in the local environment.