Mackay MP Tim Mulherin
Mackay MP Tim Mulherin Peter Holt

Mulherin questioned 'gold-plating' infrastructure definition

LAVISH playground equipment, four cycle paths on a major road and ferry systems were among the "gold-plating" infrastructure charges councils have tried to impose on developers before granting approval.

Mackay MP Tim Mulherin asked a budget estimates committee hearing at Queensland Parliament what evidence the government had that councils were gold-plating and questioned definitions for essential and non-essential infrastructure required for new developments across the state.

He said he was concerned that storm water networks would be deemed non-essential infrastructure when alternate retention basins to drain slowly would not work in flood plains like Mackay.

"It is like a big bowl. Those retention basins do not work in monsoon periods," he said.

"So where it says that a stormwater network is not essential, it is essential in areas like Mackay.

"With the reduction of green space, we are saying that we want smaller lots and we are going to reduce the green space from four hectares per 1000 people to two hectares per 1000 people.

"Do you believe that putting this type of infrastructure and future arterial road corridors into developments is gold plating?"

State Development Minister Jeff Seeney told the committee infrastructure charges were a vexed issue that his government was allocating many resources to.

He said new framework for a more simplistic system, and a review of the capped charges, was under way and should be in place by July 1 next year.

"The challenge ... is finding a balance that allows the development industry to carry out the development that we want to see happen in a way that does not unnecessarily impose impositions on existing ratepayers. There will always be differing positions on that," he said.

"It is where those definitions are drawn and how they are drawn and who pays for what that is, as you know, the critical part of the whole discussion that happens around infrastructure charges."

Planning Deputy Director General Greg Chemello noted the playgrounds, excessive cycle paths and ferry as unnecessary infrastructure.

"One particular council was requiring basically four cycle paths on a major road - so a cycle path either side and then a cycle lane within the road reserve," he said.

"That is an example where we see you have four options to pedal your bike up and down this road. Is that really necessary when possibly one or two would do?"

Mr Chemello said his department had looked at what infrastructure was "essential for a development to be up and running".

He said each council would have different requirements but the discussion paper was about finding an acceptable range of essential infrastructure that councils could reasonably charge the development industry for upfront.

"It is not the bare bones, 1950s or 1960s kind of approach, but what is essential in today's society that we still need to have?" he said.

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