3rd April 2008

Landholders must act in responsee to the recent and ongoing land valuations put out by the Department of Natural Resources and Water. 

 Department spokesmen make glib remarks in an endeavour to divert critisism and pressure.  Such statements include “We only value the land – it is a matter for local government shires to set your shire rates.”  Others at objection conferences say, “We have done you a favour, your property is now worth more; you can now borrow more money.”

Proerty valuation is based on sales in a loacal government area.  The facts are simply that the recent period has seen property values rise because finance has been very readily available and interest rates have been moderate.  We have now entered a period of high interest rates, costly inputs and low cattle prices.  Yet we are stuck with the probability of higher shire rates due to the wisdom of the Beattie/Bligh complusary shire amalgamations.

Another trap is to catch those who have outlayed huge sums to freehold their land.  With the rise in valuations many freehold landowners will be required to pay land tax with this bracket creep. This is a penalty to those who paid to secure private land.  Legislative changes recently in Queensland have erodoed the once-secure freehold tenure to make it similar to leasehold land.

To add insult to injury, common law has reached the state of non-existence and impotemcy in the State of Queensland.  The dictorial power given to the “individual” – for example, “objection conferences are granted at the discretion of a delegated officer” – is simply a denial of natural justice in that the landholder cannot put his case to NRW officers.

Let us reflect on more open and fair valuation of land.  An officer of the Valuer-General’s Department in the past would arrange to visit a property where an ispection and informal conference took place.  Today a desktop/computer-generated valuation is decided in Brisbane.  Local NRW staff are trained in disallowing or dismissing objections.

In the intrest of landholders we require a stand alone authority similar to the previous Valuer-General’s Department, certainly not NRW, which has a vested interest.  Attendance at an objection conference must be available to all landholders who request a conference. 

The valuation debarcle is  triple harness with two other flawed decisions on land matters coming from the Queensland Government.   I refer to the system of calculating leasehold land rentals and the shoddy “Delbesse Agreement” detailing the review process of obtaining or renewing land leases.  These outcomes should not have passed first base.  They denigrate the status of proud Queensland landholders to “renters” who are given the privilege to be “stewards” of State land.  My dictionary describes a steward as ” a person employed to manage an estate.”

Queensland landholders and those who represent them should take a stand and protect the few  rights remaining.  The alternativ is to become peasants on our own land.  Objection to outlandish valuations is a good start.

John Purcell
Property Rights Australia

Queensland Country Life