The evolution of the public purpose rule in compulsory acquisition

Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Pacific Rim Real Estate Society (PRRES), 2009, pp. 1 - 15
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The compulsory acquisition of land has been a necessary but contentious domain of government at sub-national and national levels and in recent years has intensified in a number of developed and developing countries. Traditionally the domain of government for the provision of public infrastructure in serving the needs of the community, 'public purpose' provisions are provided for in both State and Commonwealth legislation around Australia and internationally. Not clearly defined within the various legislation, are the purposes to which acquired land may be put in complying with its use as a public purpose or more specifically, what a public purpose constitutes. This paper is a critique of the application of the public purpose rule and examines the boundaries and recent attempts to qualify and solidify the potential extent of this rule within legislation in parts of Australia and internationally. Local and international examples are used to highlight the extent to which this rule has evolved without requisite legislation and questions the limitless expansionary potential of what may constitute a public purpose. A framework has been developed to provide for an alternate assessment of compensation in view of the current limitations and restrictions of the Pointe Gourde Principle in the formulation of compensation.
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