Scotland Island - Western Shores - Mackeral Beach

- July 2004 -

Newsletter for Offshore Residents of Pittwater, Australia  Volume 6, Issue 60; July 2004     

Special Edition


Many will be aware of the NSW government's decision to increase costs for waterfront license facilities in our area. These are significant changes and affect many of us, particularly those who have no other means of accessing their homes than by water.

In the interests of a better understanding of this issue, here is a recent article by local resident and journalist Piers Akerman that appeared in Tuesday's edition of the Daily Telegraph. Also shown is Tony Kelly's (Minister for Lands) reply that appeared in the Letters to the Editor today, Thursday July 1st.

If you feel you can contribute to the discussion, please email the Daily Telegraph. You can do so by clicking here.

Letters should be no longer than 250 words. Name and address and phone number must be supplied for verification. Letters to the editor of The Daily Telegraph are submitted on the condition that Nationwide Newspapers Pty Ltd as publisher of The Daily Telegraph may edit and has the right to, and licence third parties to, reproduce in electronic form and communicate those letters.

In this Issue:

  • Article in the Daily Telegraph
  • Response from the Minister.
  • Your Subscription Information

    Article in the Daily Telegraph


    HOW would you feel if you learned that from Thursday, the Carr Labor Government was to slug you, and every other homeowner in NSW, with a new land tax?
    And what if that tax was to be based on a formula that took into account the area of your home's driveway, the value of your property, adjusted in line with market values, and a set rate of return of 3.05 per cent which would also be periodically reviewed.
    Well, the good news is that the Government is not going to hit you with a tax on your driveway, but the bad news is that it intends to slam the 1000 or so homeowners who have water access only to their properties with this inequitable tax from July 1.
    That is, those people who live along the Hawkesbury and around Pittwater and have no road access are going to be unjustly financially punished by the Government for their decision to live a slightly alternative lifestyle.
    They already pay rates to their local councils, just as people who can drive their cars to their doorways do. They pay the usual range of state charges (though they don't -- for the most part -- have access to water or sewerage services).
    Now the Government wants to hit them with a punitive tax on their jetties, the only means they have of getting home at night, for reasons which can only be ascribed to the meanest of character deformities, envy. It is true that many of these property owners bought their places for what now seem reasonable prices at a time when the additional burden of water
    access only seemed to most people an additional handicap. The thought of taking a boat ride in the dawn dark of a cold wintry morning was too much for many.
    The idea of living on rain water, relying on a septic tank, having the inconvenience of the tides, the lack of immediate access to hospitals, stores, cinemas, libraries, sports fields, schools, meant that those living in water-access-only areas coped with degrees of difficulty most didn't want to endure.
    When they chose to embrace this lifestyle, they either built or maintained existing jetties for which they paid a private occupancy fee of about $70 to $100. In recent years the Government started shifting the goalposts, trying to introduce an annual licence fee. Now it wants to hit them with an additional sum not charged other homeowners.
    Unfortunately, exactly what homeowners will be slugged under the tax can't be calculated yet because the Lands Department still has not worked out what another factor in the equation, the precinct value, will be -- and it won't have that answer for one or two months.
    I'm aware of this singular tax because for more than a decade my family has had a place on the water. I've held off writing this column for several months because of the obvious charge of conflict of interest, but the arrogant high-handed approach of the Government and the Lands Department has now caused me to override that concern.
    LABOR MP Marie Andrews, whose electorate of Peats covers much of the
    Hawkesbury, was scheduled to bring a Lands Department representative to a meeting of gravely concerned water-access residents two weeks ago. She cancelled; the public servant was a no-show. Lands Minister Tony Kelly was to have a meeting before the state Budget with representatives of the same group in company with Opposition Leader John
    Brogden, whose Pittwater electorate contains numerous water-access-only homeowners on Scotland Island and the Pittwater's western foreshore. Mr Kelly, too, cancelled at the last moment. Mr Brogden says it is unfair to levy an extra charge on a group of people
    who ``unlike the rest of us don't have a driveway''.
    He says a minimum cost-recovery administration fee would be appropriate for the small number of water-access- only homeowners.
    ``They shouldn't be pulled out and punished or painted as elite. Many of the affected homes are quite modest on small blocks of land, it can be a quite challenging lifestyle,'' he said.
    The Carr Government must recognise that ordinary people have a right to access their homes and that a serious question of equity is at stake. If it blindly pursues those who chose, under the rules of the day, to live in affordable if slightly inaccessible areas, it will destroy some of the most intricate communities in the state, communities that are models of
    self-reliance and community service.
    These people don't live in Point Piper or Mosman, they have jetties, not driveways. They are, in the main, the battlers who make up the local rural fire brigades, the bush revegetation groups, the fundraising committee for the local kindergarten.
    By imposing this unjust extra charge, the Government will drive out the very people Labor claims to protect and ensure that all waterfront property falls into the hands of the wealthy, the spivs and wide-boys. It must reconsider this illogical and unjust charge.

    Response from the Minister.

    I am pleased that Piers Akerman, in his article headed ``Envy waters down a unique lifestyle'' (Daily Telegraph, June 29), has disclosed his family's ownership of a waterfront property.
    It is important in matters affecting public policy that personal motivations are clearly differentiated from public interest. Jetty owners such as Mr Akerman pay a rent, not a tax, for permission to construct, on publicly owned property, jetties and other foreshore structures.
    Last year the Government referred to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) the matter of jetty rentals. Included in the referral, IPART was asked to consider those jetty owners who had water access only.
    IPART has handed down its decision, which established that the land on which private jetties were constructed was a valuable public asset, and the community is entitled to a reasonable return on this asset. IPART also recommended that a special rebate of $250 apply to water access residents.
    The Government sought independent advice to establish an equitable rental policy. It is now up to Mr Akerman to accept the umpire's decision.
    Tony Kelly,
    Lands Minister, Sydney



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