Labor calls for inquiry into Fox land title
The shadow planning minister wants an inquiry into the government's apparent retreat in stopping trucking magnate Lindsay Fox from keeping the 45 metres of beach he claimed as part of his Portsea property.PT0M36S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-33204 620 349 February 20, 2014
Planning Minister Matthew Guy appears to have retreated from his plan for retrospective laws to prevent property owners claiming Victorian coastline after trucking tycoon Lindsay Fox gained ownership of a section of Portsea beach.
Mr Guy told State Parliament on Wednesday he would consider legislation to clarify the high-water mark along Victoria's coast after Mr Fox won approval to extend his Portsea properties by 45 metres onto the beach.
''If it needs legislation to clarify it we will consider it, if it needs to be clarified by other methods we will have a look at it.''
Aerial photo of Lindsay Fox property at Portsea. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui
An adamant Mr Guy told The Age on Sunday that the government was set to rush through retrospective legislation to clarify the high-water mark and reverse the Titles Office's controversial decision to grant Mr Fox an additional 2400 square metres of beach for his family's cliff-top Portsea compound.
On Sunday he said: ''The government needs to intervene and clarify those titles. The changes might say the high-water mark at the time of purchase or at a particular time … We are not going to subject the people of Victoria to a loss of beach access simply because of a 1900s definition.''
But Mr Guy appears to have softened his hardline stance on reining in Mr Fox's beach boundary.
Lindsay Fox at Portsea. Photo: Justin McManus
When asked by opposition planning spokesman Brian Tee to confirm whether he would be able to retrospectively reclaim the land given to Mr Fox, Mr Guy said he was seeking legal advice to clarify what could be done.
Mr Guy said he wanted to provide clarity for Victorians. He told Parliament his office had not been advised that a decision on Mr Fox's boundaries was being considered or about to be made by the Titles Office.
''My office and the department are kept up to date by the Titles Office of issues that they have coming to them. However, being advised of any specific land title decision is not something that I have been involved in in the past nor any other minister has been involved in.''
Mr Tee called for a review into the saga and said Mr Guy was ''backtracking from his commitment at a million miles per hour''.
''There needs to be a review into how this appalling decision was made, why the minister said he was never informed, and what steps should be taken to ensure this never happens again. It's a disgrace that sets an awful precedent.''
A Liberal source said they believed the Titles Office decision was made on Christmas Eve to avoid scrutiny.
With Royce Millar