In brief - Inquiry's recommendations to make land valuation in NSW fairer

Submissions received by the Parliamentary Land Valuation Inquiry have highlighted a systemic failure to provide transparency around land valuation methodologies and to treat landholders with respect, dignity and fairness.

Inquiry's intention to conduct comprehensive overhaul of land valuation system

The chairman of the NSW land valuation system inquiry, Mr Matt Kean MP, was reported in January 2013 to have said: "I am determined to apply the blow torch to the entire [valuation] process in order to safeguard the public's confidence." (See Millions may have overpaid land tax, rates, Sean Nicholls, Sydney Morning Herald, 28 January 2013.)

Mr Kean has now well and truly delivered on that promise.

The final report in the inquiry was tabled in Parliament on 2 May 2013 after the inquiry considered more than 130 submissions including a submission made by Colin Biggers & Paisley. (Please see the executive summary and recommendations of the inquiry report for more information.)

Some of the "blow torch" changes recommended in the report might be considered radical, given the perhaps natural reluctance of Parliament to tinker with the basis on which land tax and council rates are assessed.

Key recommendations of the Land Valuation Inquiry

Some of the key recommendations of the Land Valuation Inquiry are summarised below.

  • The office of the Valuer General of NSW should be abolished and a new independent Valuation Commission (with three Valuation Commissioners) established.
  • The new Valuation Commission should adopt a rules based approach including, importantly, issuing public guidelines on appropriate valuation methodologies to be applied by valuers for different types of land.
  • The circumstances in which landowners can seek a review of land values should be expanded and should include the ability to seek a review of a Valuation Commissioner's decision from the Administrative Decisions Tribunal (to be renamed the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal from 1 January 2014), in addition to the Land & Environment Court.
  • A new valuation review mechanism and compulsory acquisition value process should be introduced. There are various recommendations made to improve the fairness of those processes to landowners.
  • Council rates should be determined on the average of the last three years' land valuations to dampen fluctuations in land values, in a similar way to the current averaging mechanism used to calculate land tax.
  • In response to a specific submission made by Colin Biggers & Paisley, the Attorney General should consider whether the Land & Environment Court should be vested with jurisdiction to grant administrative law remedies in land valuation appeals, particularly in light of the decision in Trust Company Limited ATF Opera House Car Park Infrastructure Trust No 1 v The Valuer General (No.2)[2011] NSWLEC 34.

It is expected that Parliament will consider the report shortly in the context of the introduction of a new land value based fire and emergency services levy.

This is commentary published by Colin Biggers & Paisley for general information purposes only. This should not be relied on as specific advice. You should seek your own legal and other advice for any question, or for any specific situation or proposal, before making any final decision. The content also is subject to change. A person listed may not be admitted as a lawyer in all States and Territories. © Colin Biggers & Paisley, Australia 2024.

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