Property Council research highlights rating practice inequity 

Property Council research into Queensland local government rating practices has raised new concerns with the targeting of non-residential properties through inequitable differential and minimum rates. The report has been released as the State Government considers regulatory amendments in response to the recommendations of the Queensland Audit Office Report: Managing local government rates and charges investigation.

The review of local government rates report, commissioned by the Property Council and undertaken by Queensland Economic Advocacy Solutions, has highlighted inconsistencies in the approach of major councils to their rating practices. The report has also graded these councils on their overall number of non-residential categories, competitiveness of their rates, and consistency with the Government’s rating guidelines.

The report has demonstrated that there is a need for reform of the way local government rates are determined in Queensland. Local governments in Queensland, unlike other jurisdictions, are privileged with more autonomy and minimal constraints in levying differential rates. There is also no legal obligation on councils to provide justification for their rating decisions.   

In June 2017, following Property Council advocacy, the Queensland Government published a ‘Guideline on equity and fairness in rating for Queensland local governments’. The Guidelines are non-statutory and contain principles of equity and fairness, and are intended to promote best practice and greater consistency of rating practices across local governments in Queensland. 

The report has found that since this guideline was introduced there has been no improvement in non-residential differential rating practices collectively by the councils, with even more inconsistent approaches applied by some local governments.

The Property Council has written to the Local Government minister seeking an overhaul of the way rating practices occur across Queensland councils with a view to simplification, consistency and greater alignment with the guidelines. The Property Council has also written to the Government in support of recently proposed regulatory amendments, including support for mandatory public consultation on council budgets and the development of long term revenue strategies.

A copy of the report can be accessed here.