LETTER: Light rail boosts values, who pays?

Light rail on the Gold Coast.
Light rail on the Gold Coast. DAVE HUNT-AAP

AN interesting piece in The Conversation about how Gold Coast Light Rail has escalated land values around LRT stations.

University of Queensland Economist Dr. Cameron Murray estimates that the Gold Coast Light Rail raised land values by around $300 million, or a whopping 25% of the cost to construct the Gold Coast Light Rail system.

This is a very significant amount of money. Once a property is sold, these windfall gains are set to land in the private bank accounts of landholders along the Light Rail route. As the Light Rail was paid for using tax money, these value increases are really coming courtesy of the taxpayer. The Gold Coast City Council's budget will also be boosted. Council rates are based on land values, so when land values go up, so does the rates revenue. We think local government should contribute to public transport infrastructure and operations based on this simple fact alone. Dr. Murray's article notes the many Queensland Government exemptions that sees revenue slip through the Queensland Government's fingers.

The Queensland Government needs to reform its land value taxation regime.

Taxing land makes buying a property more affordable, not more expensive.

The phased removal of stamp duties and the introduction of a land tax to residential properties within the ACT has reduced mortgage payments by around $2200 per year.

How can the Queensland Government credibly claim that it has no money for essential state-building projects such as Cross River Rail or the Sunshine Coast Line upgrade, while at the same time, it lets hundreds of millions of dollars in untaxed land wealth walk out of the proverbial back door?


Rail Back on Track

Topics:  cross river rail, land tax, stamp duties

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