Page 3667 - Week 12 - Wednesday, 23 October 2013

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plans are approved, pending one thing: payment of yet another commence and complete extension fee. However, this time it is in excess of $300,000. Having this significant cost imposed significantly impacts the viability of the swim centre and Mr King has expressed that if the fee is to be imposed then his family simply cannot afford to pursue this project.

Commence and complete fees have been the subject of some discussion and comment in recent times. Last year, at an industry event, the Treasurer, Mr Barr, spoke publicly about his plans to abolish the controversial fees. However, this does not seem to have occurred.

More recently, in an answer to a question on notice asked by my colleague Mr Smyth in relation to land banking and the effects fines have on the perceived problem, Mr Corbell said:

Commence and complete fees are having an impact in encouraging developers to develop their land in a timely manner. The government receives many complaints from members of the community who are concerned about undeveloped land … The existence of commence and complete fees acts as a spur to these property owners to realise that they need to develop their land. It is not fair for everyone else in the community to do the hard work financially and physically of developing land in a new suburb only to have a block opposite sit vacant because the person, for whatever reason, is not willing to develop their site.

In the case of the Kingswim proposal for the Calwell site, it is not that the proponents have been unwilling to proceed with the development; they simply have been unable to. The rationale behind these fines is to prevent land banking by developers. But by taking such a big stick approach, we are preventing investment in the ACT. Many business owners are simply not prepared to take the added risk that these fees present, in this case fees that are simply prohibitive to small business. In a letter from Mr King requesting these fees be waived, he says:

The key driver behind the ACTPLA late commencement fees is the prevention of land banking and to ensure that the community gets access to facilities and resources. I stress that the Calwell land site is the only site we have had on our books since 2007. The King family has not land banked. Fact is we have not been able to fund any development since 2007. Truth is if I had the $ in 2007 the pool would have been built.

The argument that the King family purchased the land in Calwell simply to land-bank does not add up. The land was purchased in early 2006 for about $570,000. Add to this interest payments on the loan, rates that have been paid over the past seven years and the late commencement penalty that has already been paid and the cost is now in excess of $1.5 million. Today the land is valued at approximately $850,000. But remember that, like any asset, it is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it, and the block has previously been unable to be sold.

It is my understanding that the application of commence and complete fees has at times been ad hoc. There are some sites that simply have not had the fees levied and

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