Hunter Development Corporation v Save Our Rail NSW Incorporated
On 10 November 2015, the NSW Court of Appeal handed down the decision of Hunter Development Corporation v Save Our Rail NSW Incorporated  NSWCA 346.
The case concerned the Hunter Development Corporation (HDC), which had entered into agreements for the acquisition of land and assets from RailCorp, including an Asset Sale Agreement. As a result of the agreements, the train line on the land subject to the agreements was to terminate two stations earlier, so that the land could be used for other purposes. Save Our Rail, an incorporated community organisation initially commenced proceedings in the Supreme Court seeking an order restraining RailCorp, Transport for NSW and HDC from disposing of the land. Save Our Rail relied on section 99A of the Transport Administration Act 1988 (the Act), which stated that a "rail infrastructure owner" must not close a railway line unless authorised by an Act of Parliament.
The Court below held that HDC was a rail infrastructure owner within the meaning of the Act. The effect of that decision was that without an Act of Parliament, HDC could not undertake its proposed removal works.
The Court of Appeal overturned the primary Judge's decision, finding that HDC had not become a "rail infrastructure owner" within the meaning of the Act by acquiring the assets under the Asset Sale Agreement. The Asset Sale Agreement was entered into pursuant to a direction of a Minister and was not entered into pursuant to a Ministerial order. The difference was important as under the Act, when assets are transferred by order, the assets vest in the transferee without the need for a further conveyance. Ownership in this instance was transferred by a process of sale entered into pursuant to other legislation.
The Court of Appeal also found that the proposed termination of the railway line would not constitute the closure of the railway line within the meaning of section 99A of the Act i.e. section 99A of the Act does not include the "closure of a small section of track if the line still operates between the same cities or areas, albeit to or from different places within the relevant city or area". The Court's decision was based on the policy reasons behind section 99A of the Act, which required an Act of Parliament if a railway line is closed, due to the significant effect on the economy and on the social welfare of the State's citizens. However the Court stated shortening a train line by a few kilometres, whilst potentially being inconvenient to a few passengers does not have the same public policy implications which requires Parliament's oversight.
Greater Sydney Commission
The Greater Sydney Commission Bill 2015 (Bill) was passed by NSW Parliament on 12 November 2015 and is currently awaiting assent. The Bill establishes the Greater Sydney Commission which will be a NSW Government agency charged with leading metropolitan planning for the Greater Sydney Region. The GSC will have an important role in both strategic planning and development assessment in NSW. Please click here to read more.
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AIN v Medical Council of New South Wales  NSWCATAP
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Hunter Development Corporation v Save Our Rail NSW
Incorporated  NSWCA 346
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW – acquisition of land and assets by public development corporation for the purpose of redevelopment – whether acquisition required Act of Parliament pursuant to Transport Administration Act 1988, s 99A ADMINISTRATIVE LAW – whether transfer of land or proposed removal of assets amounted to closure of a railway line ADMINISTRATIVE LAW – powers under which parties to entered into agreements to transfer land and assets – whether under Transport Administration Act 1988 – whether under Growth Centres (Development Corporations) Act 1974 STATUTORY INTERPRETATION – whether assets "vested by or under" the Transport Administration Act 1988 STATUTORY INTERPRETATION – whether transfer of land by compulsory acquisition amounted to land being "otherwise disposed of" within the meaning of the Transport Administration Act 1988 WORDS AND PHRASES – "vest" – "by or under" – "close a railway line" – "sold or otherwise disposed of". More...
Donald v Rail Corporation of New South Wales (No 4)
 NSWSC 1681
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