UDIA chief Andrew Stevens is enthusiastic about Sunshine Coast Council cutting developers’ fees.
UDIA chief Andrew Stevens is enthusiastic about Sunshine Coast Council cutting developers’ fees. Iain Curry

Discounting for developers is welfare, says LGA chief

DISCOUNTS on infrastructure charges should be classified as welfare, Local Government Association of Queensland CEO Greg Hallam says.

The Property Council of Australia and Urban Development Institute of Australia Sunshine Coast branch responded to generous council infrastructure concessions announced on Monday by immediately calling for the Built and Benefit policy to be extended to residential and retail development.

"Welfare is welfare,'' Mr Hallam said. "Whether it's a payment or subsidy to single mothers, the unemployed,

indigenous Australians or developers, it's a draw on the public purse and tax and ratepayers.''

He said local government debt in Queensland stood at $7 billion and was growing.

The former Labor government decision to cap residential subdivision lot infrastructure contributions at $28,000 already forced councils to borrow heavily to cover the shortfall.

Mr Hallam said Queensland Treasury Corporation figures showed that every $5000 reduced from the cap would increase the debt of Queensland councils by another $750 million net annually and would add $400 to every rate notice over and above any other rise.

"Farmers, small business owners and tourist operators would like that same level of support as they go through structural change,'' he said.

"Queensland infrastructure charges are cheaper than Sydney and comparable with Melbourne. Developers want us to borrow more to further support their pot.

"That is not going to happen."

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Across Australia, the development industry receives $8 billion a year in direct subsidies and assistance from state, local and federal governments.

Mayor Mark Jamieson yesterday failed to rule out that the scheme could be extended to all forms of residential and retail development.

"Build and Benefit will be reviewed after 12 months to determine its effectiveness and what changes, if any, need to be made,'' he said.

The council has yet to nominate how much it has allocated to the scheme. Mr Jamieson said costs would be disclosed through the council's budgetary processes "which are open and transparent".

He refused to disclose whether an independent report on infrastructure charges for Caloundra South had been completed, saying he had a seat at the table and would not provide running commentary.

The council previously estimated a $300 million to $560 million shortfall in the provision of infrastructure required under an agreement between Stockland and the Urban Land Development Authority.

UDIA Sunshine Coast branch president Andrew Stevens on Tuesday applauded the council's decision to slash infrastructure charges by up to 50% for certain development categories.

He was not available yesterday to answer questions about the UDIA's position.



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