Outgoing MLA chairman Don Heatley.
Photo: Frances Cameron /  Daily Mercury
Outgoing MLA chairman Don Heatley. Photo: Frances Cameron / Daily Mercury Frances Cameron

Land owners told to 'divorce yourself emotionally' from acquisition process

A TOWNSVILLE farmer midway along the acquisition process with the Commonwealth for the military training expansion project is in Central Queensland today.

His first message is: "You must do, which is very difficult to do, you must divorce yourself emotionally from the process.”

Don Heatley, whose property 'Fanning River' was gazetted in 2011, mentioned this while thinking about farmers impacted by Shoalwater Bay expansion.

In particular, the Geddes family who have owned the land for 140 years.

Mr Heatley, who was the Meat and Livestock Australia chairman from 2005-2011, will address landholders impacted by the expansion at a private meeting today hosted by AgForce in Marlborough.

He warned once land has been gazetted the onus was on them (landholders) to put up a compensation package to the Commonwealth, not the other way around.

"That in itself is a harrowing process,” Mr Heatley said."You will require the services of valuers, legal support, accountants... You may need others. You just don't know precisely what your compensation package will look like.”

Fanning River is a 90,000 acres (36421.708 hectares) that was fully stocked, west of Townsville. Once it was gazetted in December 2011, Mr Heatley, his wife and two sons were legally required to vacate the property the family had owned for 80 years within six months.

He explained that once the property was gazetted, it meant the Commonwealth owned the land, not the farmer.

"There are going to be circumstances that don't allow you to move to those time-lines,” Mr Heatley warned.

He said the other key point landowners needed to know about this process was that the Commonwealth would have a value for your property and you needed a value for your property (for your compensation package).

"If you assume the Commonwealth has valued your land, you have 30 days after the gazetting... you are entitled to 90% of the Commonwealth's value of your land,” Mr Heatley said.

"That then means it does take some pressure off the landholder funding the ongoing process of building a claim to compensate for the loss of their property.”

He said every landholder's process would be different due to such factors as whether or not there was one owner of the land and if the land was linked to other properties owned by the same person.

Kerri-Anne Mesner



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