Minister Stephen Robertson.
Minister Stephen Robertson.

Hinterland owner attacks rent hike

A Noosa hinterland property owner has been caught up in what she has described as a “money-grabbing” price hike by the State Government involving crown land rent charges.

The woman, who has lived on her property for 23 years, was shocked when she received her bill for the crown land she rents as part of a road buffer.

It had risen without warning by 500 per cent, from $83 a year to $407. Since moving there she had seen her rental fee, which was part of an existing agreement a former landholder had with the State Government, increase in increments.

And the woman, who asked not to be named, said she is far from alone in being slugged by the Department of Environment and Resource Management.

“When I rang the DERM office in Nambour they said they had already had a lot of complaints,” the woman said.

“I don’t mind paying increases, but we weren’t consulted on this, and it has been such a big increase.

“If anything I should be charging them (DERM) for the work I have done on that land over the years – it is now prime natural forest after all the plantings I’ve done.”

She said the state land was an “environmental gem as opposed to the scrub of lantana and groundsel and molasses grass that was there when I bought this property”.

“There are no maintenance costs to the government for this parcel of land. They have not incurred one cent of costs over the years except the postage for the yearly bill.

“They keep saying that we were consulted, but I’d like to know when – I received nothing about it until I received my bill.”

The LNP resources spokesman Jeff Seeney has labelled the rental increases a “rip-off” and a “cash grab”.

But Natural Resources Minister Stephen Robertson in media reports hit back at the LNP, saying that changes went out for public comment from April to July in 2008, but the LNP “did not bother make a submission”.

“It was then made public in December 2009 – this has been on the web through the Office of Parliamentary Counsel since then.”

Premier Anna Bligh said the rents being charged did not make a profit for the government.

“All they do is break-even on the administration of that land,” she said. The taxpayers are entitled to see some reasonable return.”

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