State Development, Infrastructure and Planning (Red Tape Reduction) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2014
Hon. GW ELMES (Noosa—LNP) (Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural Affairs and Minister Assisting the Premier) (9.04 pm): I rise to speak in support of the State Development, Infrastructure and Planning (Red Tape Reduction) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill. My comments will be confined to those elements of the bill dealing with the issue of party houses, which have been a growing problem for parts of my electorate. It is an issue that the member for Mermaid Beach, whose electorate shares a similar problem, and I have been campaigning for on and off for about four years. This bill enables the new Noosa Council and any other local council where these nuisance premises are a problem to develop a local solution to this distressing problem which meets the needs of local communities. By investing power in the local council, this bill invests power in the local community.
It is worthwhile just going over the history of my contact in terms of this issue, because it does show very clearly that the previous administration in this state either did not want to address the problem or had no interest in the problem and it does show how quickly we have come to where we are tonight. This was first raised in my electorate as far back as September 2009 when a local English language college was placing students collectively in residential areas designed for family accommodation. At the time I discussed it with the Sunshine Coast Council which investigated it but found it had no power to act under the Noosa Plan. Then the party house issue started to grow, promoted by sales and letting practices. The Sunshine Coast Council took one company operating in Caloundra to the Planning and Environment Court in June 2010 and won, but the decision was overturned on appeal by the Supreme Court. It was clear by this time that residential properties were being purchased by entrepreneurs and either heavily renovated or newly constructed after demolition of an existing property to meet the needs of this emerging market. That gave these operators a considerable cost advantage over legitimate accommodation providers given the raft of safety requirements mandated for tourist accommodation
In May 2010 I wrote to the then minister for infrastructure and planning, Stirling Hinchliffe, and received a reply which put the issue on hold until the new Sunshine Coast Planning Scheme evolved. In March 2011 then tourism and small business minister Jan Jarratt promoted party houses via Tourism Queensland by running a competition for a free holiday in one of these party houses. In March 2011 complaints from Witta Circle and other Noosa areas started to be received in my electorate office. In May of that year I wrote to the then deputy premier and Attorney-General and minister for local government and special minister of state, Paul Lucas, who advised that the issue could not be controlled by the planning scheme. In 2011 Campbell Newman committed to giving local government the power to deal with the issue backed up by the Queensland Police Service. The Premier said—
We’d make sure that local government had the necessary power to actually regulate where and when they could be set up ... there might be some locations they should be able to exist, but local government needs the control mechanism to actually regulate it properly ...
In September 2012 my colleague the Minister for Local Government introduced legislation into the parliament to do just that. In November that year this parliament passed the Local Government and Other Legislation Amendment Bill. This bill today removes the final anomalies to clarify and specify that local authorities now have all of the power they need to deal with the issue in a way appropriate to local circumstances. I am very pleased that councils now have the power to regulate the operations of party houses. These party houses come in where they are not wanted and compete most unfairly with legitimate holiday accommodation providers who do the right thing. This is a win for local neighbourhoods and it is a win for their quality of life. The new council powers honour an election promise I made to help target the problem in Noosa of large homes being converted into mass rentals. It has been an issue of great concern to residents unfortunate enough to live adjacent to one. I would be more than happy to give the new Noosa Council all of the support its needs to see the new legislation applied once it is passed through the parliament.