Tuesday 26 March 2020
Hansard of the Legislative Council



[12.16 p.m.]
Mrs HISCUTT (Montgomery - Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council) - Mr President, I want to make a statement of clarification on the Brickmakers Point Landslip Bill, which we tried to deal with yesterday. 

I wish to address the statement made last evening by the member for Rosevears in relation to statements I made in the Chamber yesterday.  I understand he was reading from a letter.  I understand it relates to whether the statements in question - as to whether the property owners to whom the Brickmaker Point Landslip Bill 2020 relates were aware of the details of the financial offer proposed through the bill, and whether residents had been advised in February that the assistance bill was being developed and that it would be consistent with the Rosetta Landslip Act 1992 - were inaccurate.

I offered information to the Chamber to the effect that the property owners were told it would be consistent with the Rosetta Landslip Act 1992, which was 75 per cent, but further that the Government did not actually say it would be 75 per cent per se; it would be consistent with the Rosetta act, and that has come from Hansard

First, I should have prefaced that statement with the statement 'I am advised that the property owners were told that'.  I was not present at the discussion that occurred during the February communication, which I understand was between deputy secretary Craig Limkin and Mr Berry by telephone.  I was relaying advice provided by the deputy secretary as to what had occurred, advice he provided to me in the Chamber yesterday. 
I am advised the actual communication to property owners was that the scheme would be similar to Rosetta and that no definite position could be provided at that time because an in-principle agreement had yet to be resolved by the council.  That resolution did not occur until March.  It would appear that, on that basis, I have inadvertently provided a more definitive description of the information provided, that it was consistent with the Rosetta act versus that it was similar to the Rosetta act.

There was no intent on my behalf to misrepresent or overstate the information provided, it was simply a misinterpretation of the advice provided.  I regret any misunderstanding that resulted in those statements.  I understand that the property owners may not be content with the assistance proposal.  However, the Government and the council have acted in good faith and agreed as to what they would offer by way of a payment on compassionate grounds proposed through the bill.  The assistance offer is not a negotiated compensation. 

In summary, Mr President, the Government and the council have liaised closely with respect to the proposed compassionate assistance scheme.  I am advised that the Department of Premier and Cabinet has undertaken a number of discussions with the property owners.  This includes initial discussions with the former director of local government, Mr Alex Tay; subsequent discussions between current Director of Local Government, Mr Limkin, and property owners; and, I am advised, mainly channelled through Mr David Berry, most recently, the phone conversation in February as referred to in Mr Berry's letter, which informed part of my submissions yesterday.

Yesterday, the member for Rosevears complained there had not been any discussion with the property owners prior to the bill being introduced.  I am advised that Mr Limkin called most property owners prior to the bill being introduced to advise them of the Government's intent to bring this bill before parliament with some urgency based on a desire to offer financial assistance to five specific property owners on compassionate grounds, owners whose lives have been severely impacted by landslide.