ESTIMATES COMMITTEE B
Monday 18 June 2007
Mrs Smith (Chair)
Hon. David Llewellyn , Minister for Primary Industries; Minister for Police and Emergency Management; Minister for Energy
Department of Primary Industries and Water
Kim Evans , Secretary
Stephen Godfrey, General Manager (Information & Land Services)
1.4 Crown Land Services –
Mr FINCH - Some of these might have been picked up a little bit earlier. Initiatives for the coming year include streamlining applications for the use and the development of crown land. Can you enlarge on that for me, please?
Mr LLEWELLYN - During early 2006 an internal audit of applications to use crown land, being accessed by Crown Land Services branch, found that there was a significant backlog in the applications. In response, the department established the application backlog clearance project. That was to ensure that the backlog was cleared by August 2008. That was the deadline applied to it. However, an analysis of the causes of the application backlog showed that, unless the application assessment and issues management system were modified, future work backlogs would inevitably develop.
In response to that finding, in early 2007 the sustainable procedures project was commenced. This project is in the process of analysing and redesigning each of the application and issue management procedures carried out by the Crown Land Services. Other aspects of the project will include the implementation of necessary branch restructuring, extensive staff training, education and the implementation of a long-term branch audit program. It is anticipated that the sustainable procedures project will be completed by March 2008. That is how we have tried to work on that backlog.
Mr FINCH - Is that backlog because some of the procedures are complicated? If there was a simple procedure, would that go to the end of the queue or would that come in and be processed in a speedier fashion?
Mr LLEWELLYN - I answered part of that in what I just said, in the sense that we are looking at the procedural aspects. I am just reminded that the actual new funding that has provided there is to deal with backlog issues, but the routine stuff is still being dealt with normally and consistently while this other project addresses these more complicated issues as to why the backlog has actually developed.
SALE OF CROWN LAND AND ASSETS
Mr FINCH - When a private person applies to buy a piece of crown land or to use a piece of crown land can you describe for me the process of how you value land? This might come back to the talk we had before about valuations. How does that process work and how is it valued?
Mr LLEWELLYN - There is a set of procedures associated with it. Obviously under the Crown Lands Act I cannot approve the sale of any crown land or assets without having a proper valuation. That is the first and foremost issue associated with the sale. It has to be properly valued; it has to have a valuation put on it. Then it has to go through a series of other requirements. For instance, if there are any trees on it, the trees have to be checked and valued. There might be Aboriginal heritage or flora and fauna issues associated with it. All of those things have to be checked out. That is a rather complex arrangement, which protracts the sale process, sometimes considerably. Those are the issues we have been trying to deal with. Mr Godfrey might be able to expand on that.
Mr GODFREY - The minister is correct; the valuation is done by the Valuer-General at market price. It goes through an assessment process within government. The government determines what its priorities are and its potential future use. It takes into consideration all the heritage and conservation values that the minister has gone through. That goes through a process of being ticked off.
Upon until recently that has been a fairly long process, but through the crown land assessment process that we have just gone through, CLAC, we have identified all the crown land and an assessment has been made as to what potentially that land would be used for in the future for government. Whether it would be kept within government for conservation values or it is required for a strategic purpose of government. Whether it gets transferred to a local government because there be some infrastructure on it or it is required by council for their future ones, or it is to be sold. Some of those processes have been streamlined because we now know and have made a decision on the general context of what that piece of crown land may be used for in future.
Mr FINCH - Do we have an expectation of sell-offs in the coming year of crown land? Can we have a list of the crown land assets that are going to be sold?
Mr LLEWELLYN - The crown land assessment classification project has identified all of that land in the terms that Mr Godfrey has just mentioned. Out of that there will be an amount of crown land that will be offered up for sale, but that will be done on a progressive basis. I am not sure whether there has been a total evaluation of the amount of money that is likely to be obtained from the process. The budget estimate is $3.5 million worth of land.
Mr EVANS - That is for sales arising out of the crown lands assessment project, the CLAP project, as opposed to revenue from major sales, which is a matter for the Treasurer.
CHAIR - We are on 1.4, Crown Land Services, and there is a footnote that the 'increase in grants of transfer payments reflects the transfer of funds from the Crown Lands Administration Fund to consolidated as a result of the sale of the assets of the Hobart ports'. Are they assets that will be sold in the coming financial year?
Mr EVANS - Those assets are sold through the Department of Treasury and not through our agency, but the funds are paid into the CLAF.
CHAIR - The Treasurer decides what he will sell. He sets up the process, but it comes through your budgeting with a special footnote through your office, because you transfer the title from A to B?
Mr EVANS - No. It is because we administer the Crown Lands Administration Fund.
CHAIR - Can you not give us a list of Hobart Ports Corporation property that will be sold in the next 12 months - not the value, just a list?
Mr LLEWELLYN - In the next 12 months?
CHAIR - The expenses show $47 million out. Part of that substantial 44 per cent increase is transfer of funds, as you quite rightly pointed out, Mr Evans, through the department.
Mr LLEWELLYN - What about the Hobart Airport?
CHAIR - No, I do not think that is in there.
Mr EVANS - No, it is not included in this.
Mr LLEWELLYN - The Marine Board Building and Franklin Wharf.
Mr EVANS - No. 7 and No. 9, Franklin Wharf.
CHAIR - The Treasurer announced that an extensive amount of crown land would be released for public housing. Is that something that your department has involvement with as well?
Mr LLEWELLYN - A number of agencies will have the actual ownership of that land - the Education Department, and the Health Department through Housing Tasmania.
Mr EVANS - We do not have any details on that.
CHAIR - You are virtually the clearing house?
Mr EVANS - That is because of our responsibilities under the Crown Lands Act and the responsibility for the fund.
Mr LLEWELLYN - I have to make sure that it is done correctly and that an appropriate price is put on it when it is offered to the public, otherwise people could accuse me of being corrupt or something or other.
CHAIR - If you go to tender you will never have that accusation, because the tender process puts true value on it.