How Other Countries Do It


Legislative Comparison- Queensland Reconstruction Act 2011 and Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011

A key difference between the QRA and our own CER Act was in compensation for land taken under these Acts. In Queensland compensation for land taken under their QRA is considered under the Acquisition of Land Act 1967 (QLD). In contrast, our CER Act refers back to the Public Works Act 1981 while at the same time contain ambiguous wording (s. 60-67) that allows for broad interpretation and for the Minister of Earthquake Recovery to exercise discretionary power on compensation.

Buyback Comparison- Brisbane City Buyback Scheme

+ Totally voluntary, residents must opt in
+ Eligibility is solely based on scientific data on susceptibility to flooding
+ Uninterested residents do not have services cut back or threatened with turning off services
+ Buyback price is based on pre-flood market value
+ City council and homeowner to agree on price before deal can go through
+ Programme funding is budgeted in a multi-year plan
+ Future land use is designated for drainage and conservation only


(a) Hazard Mitigation Assistance Programs (HMAP)- USA

In the United States the federal agency FEMA developed a comprehensive programme for local authorities to respond to disasters. The relevant parts are in their HMAP which set out clear guidelines for the process and criteria for federal funding in land acquisitions aimed at disaster mitigation.

The US federal guidelines state that the compensation must be pre-event fair market value as appraised by a registered appraiser.

The buyouts must be voluntary and no homeowners are ever forced to relinquish their property.

Reference: FEMA Hazard Mitigation Assistance Program Guidance, June 19, 2008.

(b) History of land acquisition for disaster mitigation

In 1977, the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma purchased homes in the highest flood risk areas and again in 1979 in the Mingo Creek floodplain. Tulsa voters approved a new sales tax to fund more buybacks in 1991. In over 20 years the city of Tulsa has moved more than 900 buildings out of its floodplains.

In 1993 alone Missouri state purchased 4,044 properties under the Missouri Community Buyout Program. The programme purchased at-risk homes at a pre-disaster market price and turned the land into open space. Their buyout program criteria are:
(1) properties would be purchased only from willing sellers
(2) The local community would be responsible for identifying primary residences that were damaged and approach owners with the buyout offer
(3) once the land was purchased, the community had the right to decide whether the acquired land would be set aside as recreational parkland or returned to natural wetlands
(4) volunteers for the buyout programme would be required to relocate outside the floodplain

There are many more examples of disaster mitigation programmes based on land acquisition in the US that serve as good examples for high quality policy-making.