Certainty needed on rating powers

Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) President Margaret de Wit has said that the recent Supreme Court judgment determining that Mackay Regional Council’s decision to impose differential rates on non-owner occupied residential property was invalid has major implications for other councils across the state.

The LGAQ has called on the State Government to introduce legislative and regulatory reforms to put councils on a sound footing as they prepare their budgets for the coming year.

President de Wit said only a change in legislation would ensure that a rating system aimed at encouraging fairness and equity was protected from future legal challenge.

“While that judgment is being appealed, other councils need to make sure their communities can enjoy certainty in regard to future revenue options.

“Many councils presently use the differential rating power to categorise residential land based on whether it is used as a principal place of residence, or for investment purposes.

“That option needs to be confirmed in legislation.”

Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said he supported the LGAQ’s call for Local Government minister David Crisafulli to introduce legislation to protect ratepayers from the possibility of being liable for retrospective rate refunds to investors.

“I urge the Minister to amend legislation to ensure that Brisbane owner occupier ratepayers are not at risk of being slugged for retrospective payments.

“As a matter of policy, Brisbane City Council believes that the ability to categorise residential properties for rating purposes according to whether they are owner occupied or not is a fair, equitable and reasonable rating arrangement given that tax deductible arrangements are in place for investors.

“Brisbane’s position remains that we will be working with the LGAQ and the Minister to solve this issue as quickly as we can.”