21 January 2011
The NSW Government has today completed a two-year review of Western Sydney development levies and decided to re-impose a levy on non-government schools, according to the Urban Taskforce. The government today published a ministerial direction and a new determination, completing a process that was announced by former Premier Nathan Rees in 2008 and originally due to be finished in February 2009.
The Urban Taskforces chief executive, Aaron Gadiel, said the government had elected to re-impose a development levy on non-government schools, while leaving government schools exempt.
A school built within a new residential area would face a levy of $270,000 per hectare, Mr Gadiel said.
A three hectare non-government school will face an $810,000 impost, while a government school serving the same community will be exempt.
While a previous decision had also imposed a tax on non-government schools, the minimal level of development in Western Sydneys growth centres had meant that the levy regime had been largely unimplemented.
Todays decision is a relic of the distant past, Mr Gadiel said.
There is now broad public acceptance of state aid to non-government schools, but this decision seems hark back to old debates.
In the past, some politicians have sought to portray independent schools as ˜wealthy, but in new release suburbs these schools are serving the ordinary Australians who are buying a modest home and a modest block of land.
Mr Gadiel said there has been a general acceptance of needs-based support for schools across the political spectrum and more generally within the Australian community.
A non-government school in a new release area will serve the same community demographic as a government school, he said.
Its a mystery why a non-government school run by a church organisation should be taxed harshly, when an equivalent government school can establish itself tax free.
Mr Gadiel said that, across NSW, 30 per cent of schools were non-government.
Were concerned that parents in some new release areas may not get the same level of choice enjoyed by the rest of the community, he said.
The residents of new release areas should have the right to exercise choice they shouldnt have the NSW Government using tax policies to penalise and create disincentives for independent schools to set up in new communities.
The Urban Taskforce is a property development industry group, representing Australias most prominent property developers and equity financiers.