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Wednesday, 26 October 1910

Senator ST LEDGER (Queensland) . - If we take the value of the feesimple of the land and add to it the value of the improvements, we shall get the improved value. Conversely, if we take from the improved value of the land the value of the improvements, we shall arrive at the unimproved value. Senator Millen has suggested that we should strike out the limiting words " assuming that the improvements (if any) thereon or appertaining thereto and made or acquired by the owner or his predecessor in title had not been made." If we did that we should have three definitions of "improved value," "unimproved value," and "value of improvements," which would be consistent one with the other.

Senator Guthrie - What would the honorable senator say is the unimproved value of the land on which this building is erected ?

Senator ST LEDGER - It would be its value less the value of the improvements upon it. We must deduct the value of the improvements ; there is no other way to get at the unimproved value. Senator Millen's proposal is made in order to guide the Commissioner of Taxes along proper lines in ascertaining the unimproved value of land.

Senator Guthrie - What is the unimproved value of the land on which the building in which we are assembled is erected?

Senator Millen - Senator St. Ledger is a legislator, and not a land valuer.

Senator Guthrie - The honorable senator is speaking as an authority.

Senator ST LEDGER - I am not speaking as an authority on land values. As a matter of common sense I take it that the unimproved value is the improved value less the value of improvements. I think that the first State in Australia to suggest the true basis on which to ascertain the unimproved values was the State of Queensland, and the definition adopted there has been consistently adhered to. Unimproved value is clearly defined in section 195 of the Local Authorities Act of 1902 of Queensland. The definition therein contained has been tested in the Courts and uniformly adhered to.

Senator Chataway - And it has been before the Privy Council.

Senator ST LEDGER - In some cases it has. The section reads -

In the valuation of land the following rules shall be observed -

Except as hereinafter otherwise provided, the value of any rateable land shall be estimated at the fair average value of unimproved land of the same quality held in fee-simple in the same neighbourhood.

That supplies the valuers of local authorities with a reliable guide in ascertaining the unimproved value of properties. What the Government have done in another place, and what apparently they propose to do here in spite of all we can say is this : They submit three fairly workable definitions of improved value, unimproved value, and value of improvements. But they nullify their effect by proposing a limitation in the definition of unimproved values. If we amend the definition of " unimproved value" by the omission of the words to which I have already referred, we shall closely approximate our definition to the Queensland definition I have quoted. The retention of those words can only give rise to endless confusion. The definition of the " value of improvements " is clear, and would be a useful guide to valuers when taken in conjunction with the definition of "improved value," and would afford facilities to the Commissioner of Taxes to determine accurately the "unimproved value" almost without the possibility of mistake. I hope that the suggestion of Senator Millen to strike out the limiting words I have quoted will be adopted.

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