Infrastructure charges are probably the least understood tax we have. Basically, they are a tax on developers (big and small) who are held to ransom at the point of obtaining title to newly subdivided land, to pay charges which are calculated on an undisclosed basis. The calculation of the tax is not made public. There is a published schedule but without explanation of how they are arrived at. This is a most unusual circumstance in a democratic society. The only way they can be challenged is in court.
It is not surprising that infrastructure charges are highly controversial, particularly when they have risen in the Gold Coast by approximately 100% per annum since 2003. You have to pay them or you don’t get titles. You can’t question them, or even obtain a copy of the calculations.
So the whole basis of charging has to change. May I suggest a flat charge across the city in each category (residential, industrial, commercial etc), which is reviewed each year by an independent arbiter such as the Ombudsman? In addition, the charges should compensate some types of developments such as shopping centres, which although they impact on infrastructure, provide a positive community benefit. Current charges for shopping centres consider only their impact on infrastructure and are consequently prohibitive in most cases (e.g. Aldi and Westfield at Coomera).
Council has not been acting illegally but the current system is not transparent and very expensive to administer because of its complexity.