Forum slams charges cap

THE Toowoomba Regional Business Forum says Premier Anna Bligh is misleading Queenslanders with the claim that housing will be more affordable following the new cap on infrastructure charges.

According to the TRBF, the Premier is basing her pre-cap figures on costs implemented by councils after the new Priority Infrastructure Plan charges to make it appear the costs for development will be lower.

She has also concealed the fact that in regions like Toowoomba where land prices are lower, previous charges were also lower.

In the Toowoomba region, the average infrastructure charge for a new residential allotment prior to the new infrastructure charges was about $12,000 to $14,000, not the $50,000 trumpeted by the Premier.

This has increased to an unsustainable $22,000 per allotment average across the region.

An increase of around 230 per cent to $28,000 under the new capped charges will be catastrophic.

Charges for commercial properties are even higher.

One Toowoomba shopping centre development is facing an increase of over 1800 percent, from $54,000 to over $1 million.

Board member Geoff McDonald said the new capped amounts if implemented by his council would “decimate the Toowoomba Region”.

“Already we are hearing of major developers putting projects on-hold and of established builders with a history in the Toowoomba region that can’t viably do business here with these new charges,” he said.

Toowoomba is one of Queensland’s most important regional centres and the TRBF has called on both the state government and Toowoomba council to consider the complexity of this issue and take immediate action.

“The State needs to take responsibility for the cuts in local government subsidies for infrastructure, additional costs due to amalgamation and the pressure these major decisions have had on the capacity of local authorities to manage the budgets,” Mr McDonald said.

The TRBF’s economic modelling shows that the ramifications of the new charges will be felt beyond the construction industry. It projects hundreds of jobs in the region will be lost and prices will soar as the economy spirals downwards as a direct result of these increased costs.

“We are willing to work with council to discuss the magnitude of this issue and identify a sustainable and acceptable solution and are calling on them to put a moratorium on all infrastructure charges until this is worked out.”

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