Queensland local governments are ‘constructing authorities’ and have compulsory land acquisition powers under the Acquisition of Land Act 1967 (the ALA).
To achieve compulsory acquisition Councils have always needed to closely follow the ALA requirements.
However, since the commencement of the new Human Rights Act 2019 (the HR Act) an important new requirement needs to be met. In short, Councils must carry out an appropriate “human rights analysis” before making an application to the Minister under the ALA. Failure to address human rights will result in delays to applications and in many cases will frustrate Council projects.
The HR Act contains 23 human rights which need to be considered. However, the most likely landowner’s rights to be impacted by a compulsory acquisition under the ALA are:
- Section 15 Recognition and equality before the law
- Section 19 Freedom of Movement
- Section 24 Property Rights
- Section 25 Privacy and Reputation
- Section 26 Protection of families and children
- Section 27 and 28 Cultural Rights
In all cases, Section 24 Property Rights are limited by compulsory acquisition. The other rights listed above can be affected and need to be considered on a case by case basis.
It is essential that Councils ensure that the limitation of rights caused by the proposed compulsory acquisition is reasonable and can be clearly justified in the circumstances.
It is vital to ensure that these HR Act requirements are properly dealt with in Council officer reports and recommendations, and in the Council decisions that follow.
Correct handling of Human Rights is now a critical component of every Council land acquisition.