Water Week

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Homeowners and home purchasers – especially young ones – will pay for Queensland government’s infrastructure plans

Posted by waterweek on 28 September 2007

The Urban Land Development Authority Bill had been done with quite disgraceful haste, said Queensland’s Liberal leader Bruce Flegg in the Queensland Legislative Assembly on 5 September 2007.

Most authority members appointed by Governor: The composition of the nine-man authority set up by the Bill was a chairperson appointed by the government, the Chief Executive of the Department of Infrastructure, the Chief Executive of Queensland Treasury and six other appointed members. Members could be appointed by the Governor in Council for a period up to five years.

Jobs for the boys? Therefore, a pretty broad-ranging group of people could be appointed to the council. The problem that the opposition had with the proposal is that, at the end of the day, these were all government appointees, Flegg said. “As we have seen with government appointees in a whole range of other areas, it is an unhealthy and potentially dangerous situation when a commission with this power – and this will be one of the most powerful commissions in the state and it will certainly have more power than any local government authority – is completely manned by government appointees.”

Overarching plan: The bill also provided for amendments to the Integrated Planning Act. As with the regulatory provisions of the South East Queensland Regional Plan, state planning regulatory provisions would, amongst other things, affect the operation of a planning scheme. They would be able to prohibit development, and provide a single overarching planning instrument that could be applied in a range of circumstances and provide a more transparent approach with public consultation included.

Another tax introduced: The changes also allowed for state infrastructure agreements. The bill inserted a new part 3 into chapter 5 of the Integrated Planning Act 1997 that dealt with contributions for state infrastructure. While the purpose of this amendment was stated to be to ensure funding for state infrastructure is a transparent and equitable process, it was, however, at the end of the day, another government charge, said Flegg. “It is another tax that homeowners and home purchasers will pay. In introducing a bill that is designed to improve housing affordability and lower the cost of housing, we find an amendment to the IPA to allow a new tax on property.”

Charge on young homeowners: “Moreover, it is a new tax on what will predominantly be new property, the sort of place where first homebuyers might be looking to acquire their first home,” Flegg said. “There is a danger here of extending what has already been seen as an inequitable situation. New homebuyers, who are quite frequently the first homebuyer or the young homebuyer, have been expected to pay in some cases enormous amounts towards contributions for infrastructure and we are now adding another layer of charging for infrastructure. …I would like to see the minister give us some guidelines on how much these charges will be. How much will the state government take in infrastructure charges for each block of land in a master planned community?”

More taxes don’t help affordability: Flegg said that if the minister could not tell Queenslanders how much her new tax was going to cost on each affected block of land, then the provisions should not be introduced. “We are attempting to have a discussion on the serious issue of housing affordability that has emerged rapidly in this state, but how can the minister pretend she is dealing with housing affordability by putting a new tax on new houses? It is nonsense.”

Reference: Bruce Flegg, Deputy Leader of the Queensland Coalition, Leader of the Liberal Party, Shadow Treasurer, Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Member for Moggill, Legislative Assembly, Queensland, 5 September 2007.

Erisk Net, 23/9/2007

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