Monday, 23 June 2008

Robbing Units to Pay Whom?

The recent Brisbane City Council budget included double digit rate rises for many ratepayers. Single digit rate rises were promised at the election: did Campbell Newman mean by this a raised middle finger? Because that's what he's delivered. The updated rates calculation includes a multiplier based on the value of the land a unit is situated on, which does not allow for how many units are on that land. So a $20-million block of land with 200 units on it gets the same multiplier as the same land value with 4 units on it, resulting in absurd general rates increases of up to 700% for modestly-priced units – at least according to the Labor opposition in council. Campbell Newman claims that the maximum increase is "only" 150%.

On 19 June, I attended a Labor meeting at City Hall. There, angry inner-city unit owners had picked up the idea that they were being asked to pay for the tunnels wanted by residents of suburbs like Kenmore. This may not be strictly accurate in that the tunnels blow-out, as far as I can tell, is only hitting the budget next year. Nonetheless, I suspect this is news to the people who attended the Greens rally on 12 June, protesting the Kenmore bypass. No one there spoke in favour of tunnels; the most popular alternative to the bypass was better public transport.

What I find a bit rich about Labor's attack on the rates increase is that they voted for the tunnels project, and they also have a long history of talking public transport, while failing to deliver. If Labor doesn't want inner city unit owners to be slugged with an unfair rates increase, who, exactly, are they proposing should pay for their unfunded, fiscally irresponsible welfare for tunnel builders policy, which they share with the Liberals?

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