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Recent changes to legislation – validation of rates and charges levied by local governments

The purpose of this bulletin is to inform local governments of legislative amendments to retrospectively validate rates and charges levied by local governments that may not have complied with legislative requirements.

Background

On 6 November 2017, the Supreme Court (the court) delivered its judgement on the matter of Linville Holdings Pty Ltd v Fraser Coast Regional Council. The court found in this matter that the Council had failed to validly make and levy rates and charges for each of the 2014–15, 2015–16 and 2016–17 financial years.

Under section 94(2) of the Local Government Act 2009, a local government must decide, by resolution at its annual budget meeting for a financial year, what rates and charges are to be levied for that financial year.

Essentially, the court’s decision rests on the technical construction of the Council’s rating resolutions made as part of its budget process during those financial years, and is based on a view that a resolution of a local government to levy its annual rates and charges must be separate to a local government’s resolution to adopt its budget.

Although the court’s decision applies only to the Fraser Coast Regional Council, other local governments may have constructed their rates and charges resolutions with similar deficiencies to those outlined in the court’s decision.

Details

To address this issue, the Local Government Legislation (Validation of Rates and Charges) Amendment Act 2018 was passed on 20 March 2018 and amends the City of Brisbane Act 2010 and Local Government Act 2009 to retrospectively validate:

  • all rates and charges levied by a local government for each financial year up to and including the financial year ending 30 June 2018, to the effect that a local government failed to make a separate resolution to adopt those rates and charges; and
  • any actions or proceedings undertaken, or to be taken, by a local government in relation to rates and charges captured within this scope.

The Local Government Legislation (Validation of Rates and Charges) Amendment Act 2018 and Explanatory Notes are available on the Queensland Legislation website:

Further Information

It is important to note the Local Government Legislation (Validation of Rates and Charges) Amendment Act 2018 only rectifies past resolutions to levy rates and charges.

It is expected that in future, all local governments will ensure their resolutions to make and levy rates and charges comply with the relevant legislation.

The Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) has recently published guidance material to assist local governments in meeting legislative requirements. The Best Practice Rating & Budget Resolutions – Decisions that must be made, or are ordinarily made, at a Budget Meeting provide rating and budget resolution templates and are available on the LGAQ’s website at www.lgaq.asn.au

Any further enquiries on this matter should be addressed to:

Mr Tim Dunne
Manager Governance
Department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs
P: (07) 3452 6743
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.