The drawn-out pastoral compulsory acquisition process for the Cultana Military Base expansion has been a bureaucratic mess and the federal government has been “disrespectful” to families who have been on the land for generations, according to pastoralist Bruce Nutt.
It has taken seven years to get to pre-acquisition point, in which time involvement in the Afghanistan conflict – a key reason cited by the Australian Defence Force for expansion in the area – is being scaled back.
Despite the government’s commitment to have troops exit Afghanistan at the end of 2014, an ADF spokeswoman said a “reduction in offshore operational commitments will not result in reduced training activity“.
She said while the expanded base was primarily required for the defence force, it would also provide training options for “selected coalition partners”.
About half of Pandurra Station, Port Augusta – owned by Mr Nutt – will be ‘swallowed’ in the $59.5 million expansion.
He is fighting against the acquisition of the lease, which has been in his family since 1895, and will affect the aspirations of his grandchildren.
“I still do not believe it is in the right place and their environmental assessments have been completely off the mark” he said.
“And I worry that they are just going to be hiring out this area to foreign troops, such as the Americans, as a money-making operation, which was not stated as the expanded base’s intended use.”
He said an influx of Australian and foreign troops into the small, local communities could have negative social impacts.
Mr Nutt is also concerned that the expanded area – the existing base has severely degraded the fragile environment – will still not be big enough to offset the environmental impact, and the “net will be cast wider” next time, threatening the rest of his property.
He feels frustrated, overpowered, and devastated.
“It is a horrific situation to be in” Mr Nutt said.
“Our past, present and future are being taken away from us. My priority is to keep my land and we will continue to fight this process.”
The four pastoral families embroiled in the army training area expansion are getting closer to holding direct negotiations with the government about the terms of the compulsory acquisitions.
The pre-acquisition process has finally started with the government flagging its intention, in extensive paid local newspaper advertisements, to acquire the pastoral properties.
(Source: Stock Journal, June 28 issue, 2012, Louise McBride)
About Rushmore Forensic – Compulsory Acquisition Valuations
Andrew Firth is a director of Rushmore Group. He is a forensic accountant and business valuer. Andrew has conducted business valuations across a wide range of businesses and for different court jurisdictions. This includes compulsory acquisition valuations.
He is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, and the ICAA Special Interest Group in Business Valuations. He has appeared as an Expert Witness in numerous jurisdictions.