The State Government’s review of local government revenue raising powers, which commenced with a discussion paper released in May 1999, still has not been acted upon one and a half years after its release.
The review sought to provide local governments with greater flexibility in revenue raising powers.
The Property Council’s submission argued that “revenue raising should be based primarily on land use, occupancy and consumption, rather than mainly land values and ownership."
“As occupiers of land and other direct consumers of the goods and services of local governments attract more attention, and arguably the majority of costs associated with local government infrastructure and services, they should be the focus of the tax system.”
The Property Council is concerned that the findings of the review have not been released prior to the State election, and has asked the Local Government Minister either to indicate the major proposals the review will recommend, or to rule out any major changes in powers given to local governments.
The Property Council is concerned that support amongst a number of influential local government bodies for things like betterment taxes, or a change to levying rates on the improved value of land, may find their way into government policy post election.
It is understood that the State Government’s review of this matter will resume after the election. As the Government is working to implementation by local governments in mid-2002, the Property Council expects that public consultation on any proposals and feedback on submissions will be available by mid-2001.
The Property Council will continue to lobby the relevant Local Government Minister on several fronts:
- Any major changes to revenue raising powers for local governments, if recommended, ought to be put before the electorate as an election issue
- A number of local governments have already been shown to be irresponsible in the way they have set fees and charges for development applications, based on research conducted for the Property Council and provided to the Minister
- Any mooted changes to local government revenue raising powers ought to be considered within the context of a complete review of state taxes and charges, as recommended by the Property Council.