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.
On 6 November 2017, the Supreme Court delivered a judgement in the matter of Linville Holdings Pty Ltd v Fraser Coast Regional Council. The court found 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.
To address this issue, the City of Brisbane Act 2010 and Local Government Act 2009 was amended 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, where 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.
It is important to note the legislation amendments 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.
As a matter of best practice, local governments are encouraged to review their rates and charges resolutions that have been adopted by their council and ensure:
- That there is a clear, specific resolution by your council on its rates and charges separate from the resolution that adopts the council budget
- That the rates and charges resolution does not rely solely on approving a revenue statement or policy
- That the resolution clearly specifies and adopts the rating categories and rates in the dollar for each category.
To avoid uncertainty, local governments are encouraged to seek their own legal advice when reviewing its rates and charges resolutions and adoption processes.
The Local Government Legislation (Validation of Rates and Charges) Amendment Act 2018 and Explanatory Notes are available on the Queensland Legislation website:
- The Local Government Legislation (Validation of Rates and Charges) Amendment Act 2018
- Explanatory Notes
The Local Government Association of Queensland has recently published guidance material to assist local governments in meeting legislative requirements. Local governments can access 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 via their LGAQ accounts at www.lgaq.asn.au.