Stop the NSW Government forcibly relocating citizens through compulsory acquisition
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In the last 2 years the NSW Government has compulsorily acquired over 2000 homes, impacting on children, families and pensioners mostly in Sydney but also in other areas around the state. This is not particular to NSW, this happens in other states too. Despite a Review conducted in 2014, people are still being treated very poorly when Government acquires their homes.
In my neighbourhood, 91 homes, 56 of them privately owned, are being acquired by the Government. We do not have a choice. Some residents found out by seeing it announced on television, some while at work (because they work nearby). This is not acceptable.
We have a lot of older people in our neighbourhood. We have 7 households that have been in their homes, in our community for over 50 years, 25% of households have been there more than 40 years and over 50% have been in their homes 20 years or more. Twenty of the affected people are over 70, and almost half of those are over 80, many of whom are living alone. So more half the homes being acquired by Government have had children grow up in them, parents die, pets die, lifetime friends live next door and across the road. This is just one small microcosm of what’s been happening around Sydney. This is not just a group of houses, this is a community. A community that looks after each other, that checks on our older residents, that takes them shopping, that helps each other out. This cannot be bought, this takes decades to form. Four homes have been in the family for generations, and this was planned to continue.
But this petition is not just about my neighbourhood.
We all know that to support essential infrastructure - at times the Government needs to purchase land from home-owners. (Never mind for now the question about what infrastructure is essential!).
It's never pleasant - however it can be deeply traumatising and unfair. If you've worked hard and finally bought your own home, renovated your own home, spent years getting your garden just right, talking to, helping and being helped by your neighbours - you really don't want to move.
First let’s address the myth - that given Government wants our homes - we will be well paid for this.
The legislation does say ‘market value’ and we've heard a number of politicians say they will be ‘fair but not silly’. Just so you know in case it happens to you ... and it could. (For one resident in our street it has happened to her twice!)
Despite the theory of paying people ‘market value' for their homes - people are having to move 10-20km away from their homes, because the compensation is just not enough for people to buy back in the area. This is not fair! There is strong historical evidence the Government undervalues homes.
Last year the NSW Government released the Russell Review (which it had sat on for 2 years). The Government accepted some recommendations but not the one that matters most. The Russell Review recommended when the Government acquires our homes, we should get sufficient compensation to enable us to buy back a comparable property in the same area. The Russell Review examined existing legislation across Australia and clearly stated ‘Market value by itself is generally regarded as insufficient to be seen as compensation on just terms’.
The Act currently refers to market value as ‘a willing but not anxious seller and a willing but not anxious buyer’. Find that anywhere in the current housing market, let alone inner Sydney!
Surely what is fair is that if Government acquires our properties, we should not be disadvantaged through this process. (Let’s face it - we are losing a community of support that has taken decades to build, so surely we should at least all be able to buy back into the same area, with the same type of amenity, close to public transport, close to shops etc).
What the Government saves by not accepting that recommendation, by not giving us sufficient compensation to buy back into the areas we have lived for decades - will be wasted without a thought on parliamentary travel in less than a month!
Compulsory acquisition by this Government will continue. The next people to be affected will be in Crows Nest and North Sydney with the Harbour Tunnel smoke stacks. It won’t stop there.
Tell the Premier, Minister for Finance, Services and Property, Minister for Health, Minister for Transport that the legislation needs amendment now. If the NSW Government forcibly acquires our homes, the legislation should protect us, we should be compensated to purchase like for like properties in the near vicinity.
Sign this petition to get the NSW Government to stop the Government forcibly removing us from our neighbourhoods. Amend the NSW LAND ACQUISITION (JUST TERMS) COMPENSATION ACT 1991 now, through an open public consultation process, ensure residents are not disadvantaged through compulsory acquisition and make any compensation retrospective to 2014 when the Russell Review was completed.
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