Council needs to listen

FIRM federal warnings that housing costs in Queensland are too high must be taken into account as the Fraser Coast reviews its infrastructure charges.

“We urge the Fraser Coast Regional Council to take on board comments from Federal Housing Minister Tanya Plibersek as unemployment continues to rise in Queensland,” Urban Development Institute local president Daniel Poacher said yesterday.

“Ms Plibersek said this month that fees levied by ‘greedy state governments and councils’ were partly to blame for pushing the costs of first homes out of the reach of Australians.

“Qld and NSW have been targeted in a flurry of comments from Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Treasurer Wayne Swan and senior economists warning about excessive state and council charges hiking up housing costs.

“We are particularly vulnerable on the Fraser Coast.

“We might not like it but our economy – especially in Hervey Bay – is balanced precariously on the construction industry.

“The development industry is the third-largest employer in the Fraser Coast.

“Striking the right balance in charges for developments is critical because the consequences will affect everyone who lives here.

“We are already seeing a drop in building applications and a rise in unemployment, so we are hopeful the council will take this into account in its review of infrastructure charges that should be completed in the next few weeks.

“We need to be encouraging developers at this critical time to avoid a slump that will impact heavily in unemployment and crime.”

Queensland CEO of the UDIA Brian Stewart said the Victorian and South Australian markets had held up exceptionally well, as they had minimal charges for infrastructure compared to NSW and Qld.

However the Queensland Government was not accepting it had a problem, he said.

Planning and Infrastructure Minister Stirling Hinchliffe had made yet another observation that developers “should not be so greedy”.

“The inference, of course, is that there is no affordability problem in Queensland, nor is there housing undersupply, nor are there excessive state and local government fees and charges. Apparently, with the new Sustainable Planning Act and better availability of finance, all will be solved.

“Thank goodness the feds think differently.”

In his November newsletter, Mr Stewart drew attention to a comment by Mark Henesey-Smith, CEO of AV Jennings Developments, in the Australian Financial Review on October 29:

“Mr Henesey-Smith said that the planning and charging systems in South Australia and Victoria were relatively satisfactory while those in NSW and Qld were ‘models of political ineptitude and incompetence’. The unwillingness of state governments in pro-actively promoting development is shameful.”

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