It may be the first time a royal commission has been held in Australia, but a land tenure inquiry is about to be held here.
The Government is considering whether it should approve a proposal by Queensland-based developer, Zillow, to build the world’s largest land tenure scheme.
The scheme will see land holdings sold to developers who can then purchase it for a fixed amount of money.
It’s an ambitious idea, with land worth a reported $3.5 billion to $5 billion in Australia alone.
But for many in the Australian political community, the scheme is a political flashpoint, with some questioning whether it’s appropriate.
“I don’t think it’s fair to people who are on the receiving end of land that has been acquired and then used for political purposes,” said Queensland Greens leader, Luke Foley.
If Zillows proposal passes, it would see the government paying a fee of up to $100,000 to anyone who would buy land in Queensland’s regional and remote areas, regardless of whether the land was used for any other purpose.
Zillow says it’s the most efficient way of getting the land back into the community, and will set up a dedicated fund to support local communities, such as the Northern Rivers area of Queensland, that have lost their access to the land due to climate change.
‘No evidence’ The government will hold a public hearing on the scheme on January 31.
Land acquisition has been a contentious issue for Queensland’s politicians since it was introduced in 2011.
In 2011, then-Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she had “no evidence” that the scheme would work.
Ms Palaszlczuk told the ABC she wanted to use the scheme to help farmers with land ownership problems, but the scheme was not designed to help the rural poor.
“[The land acquisition] has been used by wealthy landowners in Australia to extract land from rural Queensland for their own use and not for the benefit of the local community,” she said.
Senator Palaszikss comments were dismissed by former Queensland Premier, Campbell Newman, who said the idea of using land for private gain was “unethical”.
“In my view, it’s illegal and it has no basis in reality,” Senator Newman told ABC Radio in November.
Queenslanders First Senator Nick Xenophon has also criticised the scheme, saying the state is losing out on $1 billion in revenue to wealthy landowners.
He has also raised concerns about the Government’s use of a “public lands levy” to fund the scheme.
“The public lands levy is not a revenue generator,” Senator Xenophon said.
“The money is not used to benefit the rural community.”
In a statement to the ABC, the Queensland Government said the Government was aware of the proposal and that it was “in the process of finalising a proposal for approval”.
The State Government has also been working closely with the Zillowers team, with the Queensland Land and Resource Council assisting in planning and approvals of the scheme’s development.
Qld Government confirms it will approve the Zellows land acquisition scheme, which will be a major step forward in land ownership for rural Queensland.