Little interest in buy back scheme

FORMER Mary Valley landowners have lodged 91 Expressions of Interest (EOIs) under the State Government’s buy back initiative, Minister for Infrastructure and Planning Stirling Hinchliffe said yesterday.

Mr Hinchliffe said the seven-month timeframe to lodge an EOI for land or property purchased during the Traveston Crossing Dam project had now ended.

“So far 91 Expressions of Interest applications have been lodged but the final figure won’t be tallied until close of business,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

“The State Government acknowledges the relatively low interest in the scheme and is realistic in its plans moving forward. Once the final response from former landowners to the buyback scheme is known, we will begin the next stage of planning for the future of the Mary Valley.

“It’s important residents know there will be no fire sale and no major urban development for the Mary Valley.

“Any properties put on the market will be subject to a staggered release as properties gradually come back onto the market in coming months and years to ensure value for money is achieved for the Queensland taxpayer.”

Mr Hinchliffe said former land owners who registered their interest would now work with the State Government to negotiate contracts for their properties. The government has offered to buy back properties at the price for which they were purchased without stamp duty or any associated legal fees.

He said more than 90 per cent of rentable properties were occupied by tenants and that all existing leases would be honoured.

The Queensland Government should not be surprised at the poor take-up of its offer to sell back to former owners the land it purchased for the Traveston Crossing dam, Gympie Chamber of Commerce president Simon Young said yesterday.

He said the government should be embarrassed at having spent so much on buying the land and damaging the Mary Valley and so little on helping councils repair the damage.

Mr Young said it was unrealistic to expect people to buy their land back at the same price they were paid four years ago.

And, he said, the government had spent only $500,000 on helping plan the recovery of the area, about one-thousandth of what they spent creating the problem.

“They’ve created a huge mess and left it to local authorities with minimal funds to come up with solutions.

“I call that irresponsible,” Mr Young said.

He said it appeared that the government had achieved only a 20 per cent rate of former landowners expressing an interest in re-purchasing the land.

“I think it’s unrealistic for the government to expect people to buy back for the price paid to them, given the change in the economic climate,” he said.

“The issue of planning the future use of the land is also complicated by the fact that much of it is subject to long term leases, which will tie the land up for 25 years or more. The amount they’ve spent on trying to plan the Valley’s future from here is a drop in the bucket compared to what they spent acquiring properties.”

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