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Estimates: Questioning the Deputy Premier about infrastructure funding contributions from developers

During Parliamentary Budget Estimates on Wednesday 27 July 2022, I asked the Deputy Premier whether the government will raise or remove the cap on infrastructure charges that Councils can impose on developers for local improvements. 

You can read the answers below or in the official Queensland Parliament Record of Proceedings (Hansard).

Mr BERKMAN: Deputy Premier, I think it is pretty clear to all of us that the cost of delivering infrastructure at the local government level has increased significantly in recent years, yet there has been no commensurate increase in developer contributions or infrastructure charges in that time. With the Brisbane Lord Mayor recently joining the Greens’ longstanding call to increase the cap on infrastructure charges, will the government finally consider raising or removing the cap on infrastructure charges so that developers pay a fair share for that vital local government infrastructure?

Dr MILES: Obviously I get feedback from local government as well as from industry about those charges and both their ability to fund infrastructure needed as well as their effect on land supply and development pricing. That is the balance that obviously we need to consider. Queensland’s infrastructure planning and charging framework is crucial to making sure we are able to deliver jobs, services and the Queensland lifestyle that we want to keep. As we experience unprecedented growth, we want to ensure that our communities are well planned, liveable, sustainable, resilient and prosperous. As I say, we need to balance housing affordability with local government financial sustainability and the viability of those developers. The cap that the member refers to has been a key element of our infrastructure charging for some time. As I say, local government has raised with me concerns about the cap. We will take those concerns on board and continue to consider them in the context of our efforts to deliver more land and affordable houses as well as fund infrastructure.

Mr BERKMAN: I have a very brief related follow-up question. One thing I have noticed recently is the increasing use of ministerial infrastructure designations to avoid the payment of infrastructure charges, which I suppose makes sense more in the context of public developments but makes far less sense, in my view, in the context of private developments, whether that is private schools or other infrastructure. Is the state considering removing the exemption other than for public entities?

Dr MILES: As the person who has to do all the work on those ministerial infrastructure designations, I am aware of the number of them that have been coming through—that is not to discount all of the other people who do work on them. They are primarily for the expedited planning of community assets and state assets such as schools, hospitals and that kind of thing. In the 2021-22 financial year, 44 designations were made. Twenty-four of those were educational facilities, nine hospitals, four emergency services facilities, two sporting facilities or stadiums and five other facilities. We have also made amendments to 12 designations. They have allowed us to deliver $715 million worth of capital investment. The advice I have asked for is whether there is a mechanism by which, in some cases, we might be able to make ministerial infrastructure designations but still condition some kind of infrastructure charging. That might not be appropriate for all MIDs, but in the case of some private sector infrastructure we are happy to consider how that might be done.

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