Council Spending Transparency Shines Light on Developer Contributions

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As a result of a 2017 state election commitment, Queensland Minister for Planning Cameron Dick recently announced amendments that will require local councils to publish the amount of infrastructure charges being collected and where that money is being spent.  This is a very positive step forward in assisting the community to understand both the broader benefits of development activity in their area and the significant contribution this development makes to infrastructure upgrades.

A common myth in the “NIMBY” or anti-development activism space is the prevailing and misleading view that development often occurs in communities without any upgrades to local infrastructure and the publishing of these figures should go some way to dispelling this position.

“The amendments will create a better understanding of how development activity benefits the broader community, through improved infrastructure and services such as stormwater, transport, public parks and land for community facilities,” Mr Dick said.

“It will also highlight the considerable infrastructure being delivered by local councils to support regional growth.

“We made an election commitment to provide Queenslanders with easier access to information about the money collected and spent in their towns and cities, and these amendments deliver on that commitment.

“Developers pay significant amounts to local governments to build and upgrade infrastructure to support their development, so it’s important the community knows where councils are spending these funds.”

“On top of this, councils also invest in additional infrastructure to serve existing and future residents,” he said.

From 1 January 2020, councils will be required to publish online the value of infrastructure charges they receive, and how and where these funds are spent.  This will include publishing information such as infrastructure charges notices and documents used in the review, making or amendment of a local government infrastructure plan.

“From any member of the public can search for their suburb and see how much in infrastructure charges has been collected, and what infrastructure has been delivered,” Mr Dick said.

Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the proposed changes would align with, and build on, potential amendments to the Local Government Act for transparency and accountability.

“Encouragingly, some local governments are already publishing this information online, in their budgets and annual reports, while others are in the process of providing this transparency,” Mr Hinchliffe said.