Park residents face massive bill
PERMANENT caravan park and manufactured home park residents on the Gold Coast are staring in the face of rental hikes following the latest state government land evaluations, according to the industry's peak body.
Queensland Caravan Parks Association (CPA) executive director Ron Chapman said thousands of families, single people and pensioners lived permanently in the low-cost housing provided by caravans and would be hard hit by any increases in land tax bills.
Burleigh Town Village home park owner and CPA member Simon Lee - whose family has been in the industry on the Gold Coast for 20 years - was aghast at the latest assessments, which he said would have a big impact on his business' bottomline.
Me Lee also operates two other over50s villages at Carrara and another over the border at Tweed Heads (which is exempt from land tax in NSW).
This year, Burleigh Town Village's land was valued at $5.8 million - up 286 per cent from last year's valuation of $1.5 million and up 517 per cent from the $940,000 estimate the year before.
This means the park's land tax bill this year will jump from $17,500 to $49,400.
Even if the evaluation remained stable, within two years the park would be paying a whopping $104,400 because the tax was evaluated on a three year valuation average.
"We're out at the back of Burleigh - 10 kilometres from the beach - so it's hard to figure it out," Mr Lee said.
Last week, Mr Lee told a gathering of 150 residents that their charges would not be rising but could give no guarantees if the government impost continued.
"At the moment we don't pass land tax onto residents but if it continues on that basis we may have to," Mr Lee said.
Residents at Burleigh Town Village pay $230 per fortnight (with many receiving rent assistance) which Mr Lee said in affordable housing terms, placed his park at the lowest end of the spectrum.
"These (land tax) increases are going to do two things: 1) kill the industry off and 2) Flow through to those who can least afford it," Mr Lee said.
As land tax was a wealth tax, it was ironic that it would end up hurting some of the least wealthy in our community, he said.
Mr Lee agreed with the CPA that the only solution was for the Queensland Government to follow the example of Victoria and South Australia by exempting caravan parks from land tax.
He also has a gripe with the government over the state's Manufactured Homes (Residential Parks) Bill 2003, which he said meant the land could not be sold for another use if the business became unprofitable as residents had been granted perpetual tenancies.
"We can't do any- thing else with the land and yet they continue to tax us out of the industry and out of the state," Mr Lee said.
CPA executive director Ron Chapman said the land tax issue was so big.
"They've (the government) got to remember there's something like 30,000 consumers that this is affecting," Mr Chapman said.
Queensland Treasurer Terry Mackenroth has agreed to look at another submission by the CPA on the issue.