Lack of detail in Hunter and Illawarra levy plan documents

21 January 2011

The NSW Government is proposing to fund $81 million of its $200 million contribution to the Hunter Expressway through a levy on new local homes, according to documents placed on public exhibition today. Todays documents also show that, in the Illawarra, the government is only planning for an average of just 640 extra detached houses a year, compared to the Lower Hunters anticipated rate of new house supply of 2,640 a year.


The NSW Government today released the public consultation documents for its proposed $8,800 levy on new homes in the Lower Hunter and a $6,200 levy on new homes in the southern Illawarra. The governments also proposing a $42,100 levy on each hectare of new Lower Hunter industrial land, and a $29,000 levy on each hectare of Illawarra industrial land.


The Urban Taskforces chief executive, Aaron Gadiel, said that not enough detail had been released to properly evaluate the governments proposal.


The additional information on infrastructure is just a single A4 page for each region, Mr Gadiel said.


The government clearly possesses detailed scopes of works and timelines for delivery, but has not released any of that information today.


For example, the documents make it clear that ˜finance costs will be billed to new home owners, but no explanation is offered as to the amount that is being borrowed, the applicable interest rate, and the expected pay-back period.


The document says nothing about the timing of infrastructure delivery, instead directing us to ˜Budget Paper No. 4 which doesnt even mention most of these projects.


The government has disclosed how much of each infrastructure project it thinks new home buyers should pay for, but it hasnt disclosed the full cost of these items.


This leaves us with no way to evaluate whether or not home buyers are being unfairly burdened.


Some projects are a complete mystery for example the list of infrastructure includes upgrades of two anonymous sections of the Princes Highway that have been valued at $14 million.


The Princes Highway is a big road which two sections are to be upgraded under this levy plan?


Mr Gadiel said it was very surprising that nearly half of the NSW Governments $200 million commitment to the $1.65 billion Hunter Expressway would be financed via the proposed levy on home buyers. (The Federal Government is paying the remaining $1.45 billion for the project.)


The state government has trumpeted its commitment to the Hunter Expressway on numerous occasions, but never previously revealed that new home buyers would actually be picking up the tab, Mr Gadiel said.


Hunter home buyers will be paying for the Hunter Expressway twice, once through the general taxes, like the rest of us, and again, through an extra $1,000 added on to the cost of their new home.


That particular grab for cash is plainly unjustifiable.


Mr Gadiel said the Illawarras population is more than half the Lower Hunters, but the government is only planning for detached housing growth at less than a quarter of the Lower Hunters level.


The Illawarras status as a major region within NSW will diminish if government plans dont support sufficient housing growth.


Mr Gadiel said that hell be asking the NSW Government for additional information to clarify the full details of the levies proposal. He said the Urban Taskforce will prepare and publicly release a detailed submission.


The Urban Taskforce is a property development industry group, representing Australias most prominent property developers and equity financiers.


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