Bid to cap build­ing in­fra­struc­ture costs

Townsville Bulletin - - Investor - by Martin Rasini martin. rasini@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

STIM­U­LUS: The task­force aims to re­ju­ve­nate the prop­erty in­dus­try with the pro­posed re­forms QUEENS­LAND’S In­fra­struc­ture Charges Task­force has called for the in­tro­duc­tion for three years of a new charg­ing regime to help put the prop­erty in­dus­try back on its feet while the gov­ern­ment un­der­takes re­form.

In its fi­nal re­port yes­ter­day, the t ask­force said equity, t rans­parency, accountability, rea­son­able­ness, sim­plic­ity, con­sis­tency, ef­fi­ciency and neu­tral im­pact should be adopted as prin­ci­ples to guide the re­form.

The re­port was wel­comed by the Prop­erty Coun­cil, al­though it warned that fail­ure to set charges at the right level would stran­gle Queens­land’s prop­erty in­dus­try for a fur­ther three years.

State ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Kathy MacDer­mott said it was now up to the gov­ern­ment to de­liver the re­form needed to re­store Queens­land’s com­pet­i­tive­ness and re­build in­vestor con­fi­dence.

The prin­ci­ples form one of 10 rec­om­men­da­tions that in­clude set­ting a max­i­mum charge for each de­vel­op­ment, with costs for a house to sit be­tween $ 20,000$ 30,000, and com­mer­cial charges to range from $ 90-$ 140/ sq m for bulky goods and of­fice space, and $ 125-$ 200/ sq m for re­tail.

The task­force says the gov­ern­ment should de­cide max­i­mum charges jointly with coun­cils and de­vel­op­ers. It calls for coun­cils to be free to ap­ply a rev­enue sub­sidy to slash the max­i­mum charge, and in­tro­duc­tion of a de­ferred pay­ment sys­tem and of a stan­dard plan­ning regime.

The task­force urges the gov­ern­ment t o i nt r o d uce s t a ndard charges as early pos­si­ble and says the re­form process must sim­plify t h e p l a n n i n g a n d c h a r g i n g regime, in­clud­ing slash­ing reg­u­la­tory charg­ing re­quire­ments im­posed on coun­cils.

It says an­nual rises in in­fra­struc­ture charges should be based on the ABS PPI Con­struc­tion In­dex on the ba­sis of a three­year mov­ing av­er­age and that the charge sys­tem’s ef­fec­tive­ness be mon­i­tored. It also sug­gests a three-year mora­to­rium on col­lec­tion for gov­ern­ment by coun­cils of road-net­work charges.

Lastly, the task­force calls for the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment As­so­ci­a­tion and its mem­bers to ex­plore ad­min­is­tra­tion changes, in­clud­ing a stan­dard charges frame­work ac­ces­si­ble to the pub­lic with i nfor­ma­tion on de­vel­op­ment charge rates and in­fra­struc­ture charges col­lected by coun­cils.

It says while de­vel­op­ment con­di­tions are out­side the scope of its re­port, they equate to a cost im­pact and urges a re­view along with con­sid­er­a­tion of al­ter­na­tive ap­peal mech­a­nisms and greater use of ex­ist­ing law to ex­pe­dite sig­nif­i­cant projects.

Ms MacDer­mott said the task­force ‘‘ has pro­vided a range of charges for prop­erty types and the so­lu­tion can be found in these ranges, but very much at the lower end’’.

‘‘ Lock­ing in for a fur­ther three years the cur­rent ex­or­bi­tant level of charges . . . would be a crit­i­cal er­ror that will only serve to ce­ment Queens­land’s rep­u­ta­tion as an un­de­sir­able in­vest­ment des­ti­na­tion,’’ she said.

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