The Clarkson family, including Brooke, Trudy, Grace and Stephen (not pictured), will be forced to sell their beloved home to make way for the Mackay Ring Road.
The Clarkson family, including Brooke, Trudy, Grace and Stephen (not pictured), will be forced to sell their beloved home to make way for the Mackay Ring Road. Luke Mortimer

Fourth generation family farm falls victim to ring road

"HOW do you put a price on 100 years of family heritage?"

That's just one question Trudy Clarkson has for Minister for Roads Mark Bailey ahead of the forced sale of her fourth generation property and family home to the State Government.

The sale is part of acquisitions to clear a path for Stage 1 of the $565million Mackay Ring Road.

The Stotts Rd, Te Kowai property - owned by the family since the early 1920s and where Mrs Clarkson's great uncle Albert Schmidtke built the family home in 1940 - was first earmarked for resumption in 2008. It's been an anxiety-inducing eight years in limbo for the Clarksons.

"In 2008 they told us they were resuming... they said they wanted the property now. I asked 'how much?' and was told 'market value', so I said 'no, until you need the property we're not moving'.

"We're not moving until there's a bulldozer out the front of the house," Mrs Clarkson said. "It's disgusting, all the anxiety and the stress (during the wait), not to mention trying to have a normal family life.

"They called me on August 12 and just said we'll be sending you a letter... as of today's date we pretty much own your home.

"I wasn't just baffled, I was very disturbed, distressed and upset because now they've taken our home. I've been here for 18 years... fourth generation next to this cane farm which belongs to my parents. We've poured our blood, sweat and tears into this home."

Mrs Clarkson said property values in Mackay had fallen by up to 50% in the past five years and if the government paid market value, as she and her husband Stephen Clarkson expect, it will be devastating.

"We need replacement value to have the same type of house, living circumstances - the law is wrong and needs to be changed," she said. "There's no compensation for the emotion and ripping apart family heritage - we're talking about 100 years."

Mrs Clarkson said Mr Bailey's pledge to facilitate "fair and reasonable compensation" and "regular contact with affected property owners" was empty.

"He has not been in touch with us. We've had no communication from TMR, zero, apart from one 30-second phone call, a 'courtesy' call saying they'd send us a letter and they own our home," she said. "What would Mr Bailey think was fair and reasonable compensation if we were to take his home from him?

"If you wake up one day, get a phone call saying the government now owns your home, promising fair and reasonable compensation, well how much would you want, mate? Do you want market value, or the same type of home you now live in?"

Mr Bailey's office has been contacted for comment, but a generic statement is repeatedly provided.

TMR responded in a statement through Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert's office, saying they've been "in regular contact with all property owners affected" and were committed to reaching "a fair compensation agreement".

"... a departmental property officer will be assigned to each property owner. The property officer will have the property independently valued and will contact the owners to discuss compensation," it read.

"Assessment is based on the market value at the date of the Taking of Land Notice as well as reasonable compensation for other disturbances caused by the resumption."

Member for Dawson George Christensen said resumptions for the ring road were unavoidable, but compensation needed to be fair.

"The State Government should ensure that affected land holders are fully aware of everything that is going on when it comes to land resumptions. They should be making sure that landholders are aware of their rights when it comes to resumptions but most importantly they should be offered a fair price for land that is going to be forcibly acquired for the greater good", he said.

Mr Christensen said he was "happy to get involved", but said "the first responsibility" for adequate compensation lay with state members and the State Government

The Mercury recently spoke to Glenella property owners Ricky Barnes and Clive Desbois, who are facing the the same issue as the Clarksons.