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Monday, 29 May 2000
Page: 16493

Ms JANN McFARLANE (10:49 PM) —Tonight I would like to talk about the win for Innaloo home owners. The win is that the residents of Oswald Street in precinct 3 of Town Planning Scheme 38 have now been advised by council that a levy that was going to be placed against them for road widening works in Oswald Street will be changed to a developer's fee. This is not just a win for the Innaloo residents of Oswald Street; it is a win for the council of the City of Stirling, it is a win for social justice, it is a win for commonsense and it is a win for positive outcomes when people work together in a cooperative, consultative and harmonious matter to deal with an issue that affects their lives.

What is the win? What is this levy? The levy was raised by the City of Stirling under town planning scheme 38, and it was advised to the residents in early 1999. At that time the residents came to my office very upset about it because it was unprecedented for them to have to pay three stages of a levy to council over an 18-month period, along with two sets of rates and two sets of water rates. It was quite an impost on these people. They do not live in one of the up-market, expensive areas; they live in humble homes at the north side of the shopping centre. Most people had lived there for between 30 and 50 years, and many were retired people on low incomes. They were concerned about the levy and their ability to pay, but they were also bewildered because it was the first time any of them had ever experienced a situation where they would pay for roadworks that would benefit the shopping centre next door which was being developed into a large regional shopping centre. It was a situation that I had never come across in my 25 years of community work or in my then couple of months as the federal member for Stirling.

The council initially took a view with the residents that the town planning scheme was legal and that the residents would have to pay. After some negotiation by the residents and some support of them by me on the issue, the council decided that they were legally correct and that the levy would have to be paid, and they would not negotiate. However, time went on and the residents were firmly resolved to work together. They continually approached their ward councillors, their state members—upper and lower house—their candidates for the forthcoming state election and me to continually negotiate with the council that the impost of the levy would cause great disadvantage to them and that it was basically unfair.

The residents finally in frustration went to the state ombudsman, who looked at the situation and found what I had found and the council had found—the levy was legally correct. However, like me, the ombudsman found that the levy was also somewhat morally and ethically unsound. The ombudsman suggested to the council that they relook at the situation. John Quigley, the ALP candidate for Innaloo, who has a legal background, became involved with helping the residents deal with the negotiations with the council. In looking over the paperwork he discovered that there were different ways that you could do the levy. The outcome was that Mr Quigley put to the council that if they thought the ability to rezone a residential property increased the value at that point then this was the stage at which any Town Planning Scheme 38 fees should take effect, not while the property was zoned residential.

While he and the council agreed that this meant no-one with a residential zoning need worry about caveats, it also meant that the council had to change the way they treated the road widening works and payment for it. The council decided—in their wisdom, and after a long period of protracted negotiations—that they would change the levy into a developer's fee so that no resident was affected by the levy but that the person who brought the property in the future for development would be liable for the levy. John Quigley made the point that the Innaloo residents involved in precinct 3 should be congratulated for their commitment to getting a just outcome in this matter and for pursuing their complaint with such dignity and determination. He was also pleased to play a small part in the victory, and so was I. A win for residents—a win for a cooperative, harmonious, consultative approach—is a win for everybody.