Australia: Property & Projects - What's News? - 30 April 2012

Last Updated: 5 May 2012

Latest news – National

Caring for our Country Review Final Report released
The final report on the review of the Caring for our Country natural resource management initiative was released this week. The review found that Caring for our Country is on track to meet all of its goals and is supporting the community to protect and conserve the environment and increase the adoption of sustainable land management practices (18 April 2012) More...

Water trade proving a valuable tool for Basin communities
Launching the latest National Water Commission report, the Commissioner, Laurie Arthur, said effective and efficient water markets will continue to be vital in minimising the economic and social costs of managing fluctuating seasonal conditions and commodity markets, adapting to climate change, and moving to sustainable levels of extraction (18 April 2012) More...

Compromising Standards Under National Licensing is Unacceptable
The Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) has called for standards in the licensing of real estate agents to be maintained at a high level following the COAG Communique of 13 April detailing progress on establishing a national occupational licensing system (16 April 2012) More...

Latest news – Victoria

Vic premier says six-star rating will stay
Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu says the government has no plans to dump six-star energy rules for new homes. The six-star energy efficiency standard has been a state regulation for all new homes since May last year (16 April 2012) More...

Nunawading parkland's future secured
After a decade of uncertainty, 11 hectares of Nunawading parkland is to be transferred from VicRoads ownership to the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE), Minister for Roads Terry Mulder announced VicRoads no longer requires the land as part of the freeway reservation (16 April 2012) More...

Developer awarded $2.2m damages in shonky building dispute
A Property developer has won more than $2 million in damages for rectification works and lost rental income. The VCAT ruling came two years after the Victorian Building Commission was notified about sub-standard work on the $4 million development (18 April 2012) More...

Australia's third-tallest skyscraper is approved
Planning Minister Matthew Guy has granted a permit with conditions for a $275 million high-rise tower on the site of the former Queensbridge Hotel at 1-15 Queensbridge Street, Southbank. A number of stringent conditions are attached to the permit to appropriately respond to Melbourne City Council's views. Details of the proposal by Schiavello (Vic) Pty Ltd are outlined in the planning permit available at www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/planning/permits (18 April 2012) More...

Court rules on demands for payment by private car parks Consumer Affairs Minister Michael O'Brien announced his support for a decision that protects consumers against private car park operators who use misleading tactics by issuing "fines" with no legal authority. The Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria v Parking Patrols Vic Pty Ltd & Anor [2012] VSC 137 (13 April 2012) was a landmark case for anyone who has ever been fined by a private car park operator as only governments and their agencies can issue fines for legal breaches (13 April 2012) Consumer Affairs Minister's media release

Latest news – New South Wales

Australia and China MOU on Enhancing Cooperation in Infrastructure Construction
The Australian and Chinese governments have signed an historic Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen cooperation on delivering infrastructure for both nations. The MOU will mean closer co-operation on planning of projects, exchanging information on investment opportunities and technical expertise, training and education, joint conferences, as well as joint infrastructure projects in the future (10 April 2012) More...

Latest news – Queensland

Oil giants fight laws on offshore energy projects
The federal government faces a backlash against plans for stronger "use it or lose it" laws on offshore oil and gas projects. The government's draft energy white paper aims to reform the much-criticised system that allows petroleum giants to hold and then roll over their offshore reserves in five-year blocks without developing them (17 April 2012) More...

Payouts to penthouse buyers reduced in court
The owners of two luxury Sunshine Coast penthouses who successfully sued the developer after their ocean views were blocked have had substantial amounts slashed from their compensation payouts. The Court of Appeal in Brisbane ruled in favour of the developer Mark Bain Constructions in regards quantum of the compensation (19 April 2012) More...

Gasfields commission to restore CSG confidence
The LNP Government announces the establishment of the Gasfields Commission to restore Queensland's confidence in the CSG industry. The Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning, Mr Seeney, said the Toowoomba-based Commission would work with the Government to ensure the CSG industry struck the right balance to meet the interests of landholders, local community groups and the environment (19 April 2012) More...

Review of Vegetation Clearing Enforcement Processes ordered by Queensland Government
The Minister for Natural Resources and Mines has announced the commencement of a thorough review of the way that the penalty provisions of the Vegetation Management Act 1999 (VMA) have been applied to alleged breaches of the Act, with an investigation of the enforcement processes for alleged illegal vegetation clearing (19 April 2012) More...

Queensland Government to slash real estate red tape
The LNP government confirms laws to remove mandatory forms aimed at tackling climate change would be the initial legislation introduced by the new administration. The Newman Government will also streamline home sale contracts, as well as reinstate the $7000 residential stamp duty concession, and commence the introduction of the flood inquiry recommendations (10 April 2012) More...

Articles – National

Impacts of water trading in the southern Murray–Darling Basin between 2006-07 and 2010-11
Source: second report by the National Water Commission The report confirms the main drivers of hardship in these communities include drought, commodity prices and exchange rates. The report also assesses the impact of government programs that purchased water for environmental flows over the four year period ending in mid-2011, and focuses on examining the impacts of water trading on individual irrigators, industries and regional communities (April 2012) Full report (PDF 10.7MB) or chapters here More...

Practice notes/directions – National

Development of carbon farming methodologies - Draft funding guidelines
The Australian Government has published draft funding guidelines for the development of carbon farming methodologies under the Methodology Development Program and the Research and Development Stream of the Indigenous Carbon Farming Fund. Draft guidelines for both programs are now available for stakeholder comment. Comments on the guidelines close on 4 May 2012 (13 April 2012)

Practice notes/directions – Queensland

Lower Cost of Living for Families Package - Queensland
The package includes freezing or lowering the standard domestic electricity tariff and showing the cost of the Commonwealth's carbon tax on electricity bills; Reducing the cost of water for families in South East Queensland; Abolishing the waste levy from 1 July 2012; Re-introducing transfer duty concessions for the principal place of residence (11 April 2012) More...

Management Rights in Community Titles Schemes – Discussion paper
The Queensland Government has released for public consultation a discussion paper on Management Rights in Community Titles Schemes. The discussion paper seeks to identify those issues associated with management rights under the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 (BCCM Act).Public submissions are invited until 8 May, 2012. To find out more about the discussion paper, or to lodge a submission, click here. (12 April 2012)

Legislation – National

VIC Government Gazette G16 - Crown Land (Reserves) Act 1978 - 19/04/12 110P3808
Crown Land (Reserves) (Phillip Island Nature Park) Regulations
Crown Land (Reserves) (Metropolitan Parks) (Extension of Operation - Point Cook Coastal Park) Regulations

Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Bill 2011
A Bill for an Act to re-enact with amendments laws relating to fair trading and consumer protection, to regulate certain businesses, to repeal the Fair Trading Act 1999, the Disposal of Uncollected Goods Act 1961, the Carriers and Innkeepers Act 1958 and the Landlord and Tenant Act 1958, to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts and for other purposes. 17/04/2012 LC: Second Reading Moved

Forests Amendment Bill 2012
A Bill for an Act to amend the Forests Act 1958 and the Crown Land (Reserves) Act 1978, to make consequential amendments to the Land Act 1958, the National Parks Act 1975 and the Wildlife Act 1975, and for other purposes. 18/04/2012 LA: Second Reading 17/04/2012 LA: First Reading

Legislation – Victoria

Commonwealth

Business Names Registration Act 2011 - Proclamation
This Proclamation provides for the commencement of two dates for the National Business Names Registration System under the Business Names Registration Act 2011 – 20 April 2012 as the day that transitional provisions commence (to allow for data transfer and other transitional activities), and 28 May 2012 for the main provisions of the Act (to allow for the commencement of the National Business Names Registration System). Administered by: Innovation, Industry, Science and Research ( 19 April 2012) http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/F2012L00891

Cases – Victoria

VCAT Red Dot Decisions
Three Pillars Property Group v Brimbank CC (includes Summary) (Red Dot) [2012] VCAT 368: Consideration of when a previous cultural heritage management plan can be relied upon for a subsequent project.
Water Infrastructure Group Pty Ltd v Pyrenees SC (includes Summary) (Red Dot) [2012] VCAT 400: Interpretation of the defined terms "utility installation" and "minor utility installation". Broader issues of "good water management" in Victoria.

Yarra Valley Spring Water Pty Ltd (in liq) v Paterson & Anor [2012] VSC 135
Contact - Sale of business - Sale to trustee of unit trust in which vendors became unit holders - Distinct agreement to sell business assets including groundwater extraction licence in exchange for units in trust - No cash consideration - Obligation on seller to transfer licence to trustee on application to responsible authority - Seller prevented processing of transfer with responsible authority - Whether sale agreement was void for lack of consideration - Alleged pre contractual misrepresentations by purchaser concerning retention of licence - Alleged pre contractual misrepresentation by purchaser concerning application of funds to business - Sale of business agreement valid and enforceable Misrepresentations not proved ? No loss and damage suffered - Case suitable for making declaration of contractual rights More...

Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria v Parking Patrols Vic Pty Ltd & Anor [2012] VSC 137
TRADE PRACTICES – Consumer Protection – Operator of private car parks issuing documents which purported to impose "penalties" alleging that "offence" had been committed – Director of Consumer Affairs alleges misleading and deceptive conduct, false representations, harassment and coercion – Declaration, injunctions, adverse publicity orders and compensation sought under Fair Trading Act 1999 (Vic) ss 145, 149, 149A, 153(1), 158, 158(2)(h), 163 More...

Owners Corporation No 1 PS331362S v Sivanesan & Ors (Owners Corporation) [2012] VCAT 391
Service of application – overseas absentee lot owners – recent statutory amendment has not empowered service of VCAT application outside Australia – meaning of 'notice' – Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 1998 s 140(1)(a), (d) – Owners Corporations Act 2006 s 135 More...

Sevenco Pty Ltd v Victoria Body Corporate Services & Anor (Owners Corporation) [2012] VCAT 374
Owners corporation – duty to repair and maintain common property – duties of manager – whether breach of duty by owners corporation or manager – whether lot owner took appropriate action at time breach alleged – Owners Corporations Act 2006 ss 46,122 More...

Complete Pets Pty Ltd & Ors v Coles Group Property Developments Pty Ltd (Retail Tenancies) [2012] VCAT 361
LANDLORD AND TENANT - Retail Leases Act 2003 - s.92 costs, whether relief claimed under the Fair Trading Act 1999 excludes the operation of s.92 of the Retail Leases Act 2003; whether parties to the originating Application are parties for the purpose of s.90(c) of the Retail Leases Act 2003; whether rejection of a Calderbank offer constitutes vexatious conduct or conduct constituting a refusal to take part in alternative dispute resolution More...

Guan v Mellington & Anor (Owners Corporation) [2012] VCAT 362
Owners corporation , licence of common property to lot owners, tree on licensed area causing damage to building, whether owners corporation liable More...

Cases – Queensland

Mark Bain Constructions Pty Ltd v Avis; Mark Bain Constructions Pty Ltd v Barnscape Pty Ltd [2012] QCA 100
TRADE AND COMMERCE – COMPETITION, FAIR TRADING AND CONSUMER PROTECTION LEGISLATION – ENFORCEMENT AND REMEDIES – ACTIONS FOR DAMAGES – ASSESSMENT OR AVAILABILITY OF DAMAGES – PARTICULAR CASES – DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF PURCHASE OF LAND OR BUSINESS OR LEASE – where respondents, separately, entered into a contract to purchase a luxury apartment off the plan from the developer vendor – where, in entering the contract, respondents relied on representations made by real estate agents that the ocean view from the apartment would be uninterrupted – where contracts settled and respondents were dissatisfied with their view as it was obstructed by a new building – where respondents claimed that the representations with respect to the view were false, misleading and deceptive in contravention of s 52 and s 53A Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth) – where respondents instituted proceedings against the developer on the basis that the real estate agent was its agent duly authorised to make these representations – where the appellant contended that the real estate agent was only authorised to market the apartments for sale – where the trial judge found that the representations made by the real estate agent fell within the scope of its actual authority – where the appellant argued that there was no representation as to a future matter – whether the trial judge erred in finding that the real estate agent had actual authority – whether the trial judge erred in finding that the representations were as to future matters – whether the trial judge erred in applying s 51A Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth) – whether the real estate agents continued to be agents after the contract was entered into, but before settlement of the contract. PROCEDURE – SUPREME COURT PROCEDURE – QUEENSLAND – PROCEDURE UNDER UNIFORM CIVIL PROCEDURE RULES AND PREDECESSORS – DISCONTINUANCE – where, at the beginning of the trial, the appellant and respondents compromised proceedings against the second defendants at trial – where the appellant argued that the respondents suffered a single loss and the compromise operated as a compromise of the entire proceedings – where the trial judge found that the compromise did not release the appellant from liability - whether the trial judge erred in failing to find that the respondents' compromises with the second defendants at trial were also compromises as against the appellant. TRADE AND COMMERCE – COMPETITION, FAIR TRADING AND CONSUMER PROTECTION LEGISLATION – CONSUMER PROTECTION – MISLEADING OR DECEPTIVE CONDUCT OR FALSE REPRESENTATIONS – MISLEADING OR DECEPTIVE CONDUCT GENERALLY – GENERALLY – where the trial judge found that the respondents were induced into the contract by reliance upon the representations made by real estate agents – where the appellant argued that the respondents did not rely upon, and were not induced by, the representations – where the appellant argued that the representations amounted to mere puffery in context of the contractual provisions – where the appellant argued that the extensive business experience, understanding of contracts and reliance upon legal advice by the respondents indicated that the respondents did not rely upon the representations made by the real estate agents – whether the trial judge erred in finding that the respondents relied upon the representations and were induced into the contract. TRADE AND COMMERCE – COMPETITION, FAIR TRADING AND CONSUMER PROTECTION LEGISLATION – ENFORCEMENT AND REMEDIES – ACTIONS FOR DAMAGES – ASSESSMENT OR AVAILABILITY OF DAMAGES – PARTICULAR CASES – DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF PURCHASE OF LAND OR BUSINESS OR LEASE – where the trial judge refused leave to reintroduce a measure of loss that had been abandoned by the respondents – where the trial judge exercised the powers provided in UCPR rr 156 and 658 to assess damages in accordance with the abandoned measure of loss – where the appellant argued that assessing damages in accordance with the abandoned measure of loss substantially prejudiced the appellant – whether the trial judge erred in assessing damages in accordance with the abandoned measure of loss More...

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