Australia: A summary of the Sustainable Planning (Housing Affordability and Infrastructure Charges Reform) Amendment Bill 2011

Summary of the Sustainable Planning Bill 2011

The explanatory guide to the Integrated Planning Act 1997 (IPA) advised of the 'user pays' infrastructure charging regime provided in this legislation, that its approach would ensure 'fairness and transparency in calculating contributions and charges', providing 'greater certainty' and minimising the 'costs of access to services for home buyers'.

The Integrated Planning and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2003 then brought about significant changes to the infrastructure planning and funding components of the IPA. Priority infrastructure plans and infrastructure charges schedules ultimately replaced benchmark development sequences, infrastructure charges plans, and the combination of infrastructure charges schedules and infrastructure payments schedules. The explanatory notes for the Integrated Planning and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2003 advised with respect to the changes to be made to Chapter 5, Part 1, Division 4 of the IPA, that 'this division has been amended in a number of sections but is still primarily about creating an efficient, transparent and equitable charging mechanism in the form of the infrastructure charges schedule'.

While the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 (SPA) contained minimal changes to the infrastructure planning and funding arrangements provided for in the preceding reprint of the IPA, the explanatory notes which accompanied the Sustainable Planning Bill 2009 commented that plan making would be improved by (in amongst other things), 'making the infrastructure charging regime even more transparent and equitable including through more flexible plan development process'.

Following the commencement of the SPA, and in response to the Queensland Growth Management Summit held during March 2010, the Infrastructure Charges Taskforce (Taskforce) was established in May 2010. The Taskforce generated its interim report for consultation in November 2010, and its final report on 15 March 2011 (Report).  The Queensland Government has responded to the Report by response dated 12 April 2011 (Response), and now in the form of the Sustainable Planning (Housing Affordability and Infrastructure Charges Reform) Amendment Bill 2011(Bill). The Bill was introduced into Parliament on 10 May 2011, and passed on 25 May 2011.

In his second reading speech for the Bill, the Deputy Premier and Attorney General, Minister for Local Government and Special Minister of State, the Honourable Paul Lucas MP advised that this Bill 'will make our infrastructure-charging system in Queensland much more transparent and simple' and 'dramatically increase certainty'.  

At the time of writing this article, the resulting Sustainable Planning (Housing Affordability and Infrastructure Charges Reform) Amendment Act 2011 was not electronically available, so references have been made to the Bill instead.  There is no indication that the Bill was the subject of any amendments prior to it being passed.

The Bill contains amendments to the Building Act 1975, the Local Government Act 2009, and the SPA.  This article will only deal with the amendments proposed to the SPA.

The proposed SPA amendments can be further categorised into the following:

  1. Changes concerning the introduction of an 'adopted infrastructure charge' for local governments.
  2. Changes arising out of the above, which specifically relate to water and waste water services and Distributor-retailers.

Understanding an Adopted Infrastructure Charge

The Bill creates a regime whereby:

  1. Maximum charges for trunk infrastructure ('maximum adopted charge' (MAC)) will be established.1
  2. MACs are identified together with the development for which the charge is to be levied, in a State planning regulatory provision (SPRP).
  3. The SPRP must include a schedule of the MACs for the trunk infrastructure – which will be known as the 'adopted infrastructure charges schedule' (Adopted ICS).
  4. An SPRP of this nature:
    (a) will be called a 'SPRP (adopted charges).
    (b) may state different charges for different developments.
    (c) may state different charges for different local governments (or parts thereof).
    (d) may identify for a local government area, a priority infrastructure area.
    (e) may state a proportion of an adopted infrastructure charge for trunk infrastructure that may be levied by a participating local government, or charged by a distributor-retailer for its water service or wastewater service.

Local governments will be entitled to, by resolution:

  1. Adopt a charge for a particular development, that is less than the MAC.
  2. Adopt different charges for development in different parts of its area, if each charge is less than the MAC for the development in the part.
  3. Declare that an adopted infrastructure charge does not apply to its local government area (or part thereof).
  4. State circumstances in which a charge can be discounted, and how that discount is to be calculated.
  5. If there is no priority infrastructure plan, the local government may also, by resolution, identify trunk infrastructure for its local government area, identify trunk infrastructure or trunk infrastructure networks to which an adopted infrastructure charge applies, state the standard of service for each of these networks, and state the establishment cost of each network.

(This resolution will be an 'adopted infrastructure charges resolution' (Adopted IC Resolution), and it can be made before the commencement of the amending Act resulting from the Bill – albeit certain qualifications will apply (see clause 44 of the Bill, particularly, proposed new section 881 of the SPA)).

The 'adopted infrastructure charge' will be (for trunk infrastructure for which a SPRP (adopted charges) applies):

  1. Where an Adopted IC Resolution applies - the charge adopted under an Adopted IC Resolution.
  2. Otherwise, the lesser of:
    (a) The MAC for the infrastructure.
    (b) A charge which is equivalent to the 'pre-SPRP amount ' for the development for which the charge is being levied.

An adopted infrastructure charge can not be levied for:

  1. Work or use of land authorised under the Mineral Resources Act 1989.
  2. Work or use of land authorised under the Petroleum Act 1923.
  3. Work or use of land authorised under the Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004.
  4. Work or use of land authorised under the Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2009.
  5. Development in an urban development area under the Urban Land Development Authority Act 2007.
  6. Development in a declared master planned area in a local government's area, unless an Adopted IC Resolution for that local government states the charge applies for development in the declared master planned area. (See clause 20 of the Bill, proposed new section 648E of the SPA).

The proposed new section 880 of the SPA (see clause 44 of the Bill) is an essential provision in understanding the intended operation of the new regime, from a local government perspective.  This proposed new section confirms that from the day the SPRP (adopted charges) takes effect, local governments will not be allowed to:

  1. levy infrastructure or regulated infrastructure charges under Chapter 8, part 1, Divisions 4 or 5 of the SPA (i.e. via infrastructure charges notices or regulated infrastructure charges notices)..
  2. impose a condition under a planning scheme policy to which section 847 of the SPA applies (that section concerns planning scheme policies regarding infrastructure, created in accordance with section 6.1.20 of the Integrated Planning Act 1997) (see clause 44 of the Bill, proposed new section 880 of the SPA).

Instead, an adopted infrastructure charges notice will need to be issued in accordance with clause 20 (proposed section 648F of the SPA).  Adopted infrastructure charges notices may only be given in relation to a development approval or compliance permit (which differs from the present arrangements in the SPA).

However, local governments will still be able to collect charges or contributions that were lawfully levied or imposed.  Also, any rights or liabilities, or actions that could be taken under the SPA with respect to the above described charges or contributions, will not be affected by the changes anticipated in the Bill (see clause 44 of the Bill, proposed new section 880 of the SPA).

To facilitate the above, and to support the new Chapter 8, part 1, Division 5A of the SPA generally, consequential amendments will be made to various sections in the SPA including the following:

  1. Section 20 – to give the Minister the power to make the SPRP (adopted charges).
  2. Section 185 – to give local governments the ability to issue an adopted infrastructure charges notice, ordinary infrastructure charges notice or regulated infrastructure charges notice, that replaces an existing notice, where (1) representations have been made to the local government with respect to a master plan approval, and (2) the local government has agreed to those representations and will issue a negotiated decision notice, and (3) the master plan approved by the negotiated notice is different from the master plan originally approved in a way that affects the amount of the charge.
  3. Section 282 – to allow referral agencies to consider any relevant adopted infrastructure charges resolution, to the extent that agencies jurisdiction involves the assessment of the cost impacts of suppling infrastructure (as a State infrastructure provider under sections 655 and 657 of the SPA).
  4. Sections 314 and 314 – amended to ensure that in an assessment of either a code or impact assessable development, if the assessment manager is an infrastructure provider it can assess the development against an adopted infrastructure charges resolution or the priority infrastructure plan.
  5. Section 364 – to give a local government the ability to issue a new infrastructure charges notice where the applicant has made written representations during its appeal period about issues in the decision notice, the local government has agreed with those representations and the development approved via the resulting negotiated decision notice is different from the original approval in such a way that affects the amount of the charges.
  6. Section 388 – to ensure that the assessment manager can have regard to (in amongst other things), charges payable under chapter 8, part 1 of the SPA, in deciding a request to extend a relevant period for a development approval.
  7. Sections 478 and 535 – which confirms that appeal rights to both the Planning and Environment Court (Court), and the Building and Development Dispute Resolution Committee (Committee) with respect to adopted infrastructure charges notices are available, but limited in their scope in the same manner as is currently the case under these sections.
  8. Amendments to various sections in Chapter 8 of the SPA, in acknowledgment of adopted infrastructure charges notices, adopted infrastructure charges resolutions and adopted infrastructure charges generally.
  9. Sections 724, 738 and 739 – to ensure that the relevant new documents are made available for inspection or purchase, and otherwise dealt with in planning and development certificates.
  10. Section 879 – extending the application of section 856 of the SPA, which concerns rezoning agreements, to include adopted infrastructure charges.

What the Bill does not clearly address by way of transitional provisions are:

  1. What charging regime should be applied by the Court or the Committee in deciding current appeals (or declarations) regarding infrastructure contributions or charges, filed under either the Integrated Planning Act 1997, or the SPA.  While the Court and the Committee have the discretion to give weight to any 'new laws or policies' each considers appropriate (see sections 495 and 563 of the SPA), it is not clear:
    (a) whether the pending SPRP (adopted charges) constitutes a 'new law or policy' (or whether it is better described as a planning instrument – which is specifically catered for in the similar discretion section for local governments – see section 317(a) and the definition of planning instrument in schedule 3).
    (b) whether the appeal grounds regarding infrastructure charges notices which are presently limited by sections 478 and 535 of the SPA (following their amendment), would allow a Court or tribunal the jurisdiction to apply a different charging regime, in cases where the appeal was filed before the amending Act commences.  
  2. Whether a Council in considering a request to change a development approval (i.e. a permissible change request), is obliged to generate an adopted infrastructure charges notice.  It would seem by virtue of section 374(1)(b) and 374(2) of the SPA, a local government will not be obliged to apply the new charging regime and could refuse a request to change the approval, and rely on the previously imposed condition or infrastructure charges notice to collect the charge/contribution (see clause 44 of the Bill, particularly what will become section 880(3)(b) of the SPA).
  3. There is no mention in the Bill as to the three-year moratorium on the collection of local function charges for transport infrastructure.


1The Minister will be able to change these by gazette notice, by not more than an amount which will effectively account for inflation.

2The 'pre-SPRP amount' is, for development, the maximum amount the local government could have obtained in relation to the development, at the time immediately before the SPRP (adopted charges) comes into effect, by doing any of the following: (a) imposing a condition requiring payment of a contribution under section 848 of the SPA; (b) levying an infrastructure charge under Chapter 1, Part 1, Division 4 of the SPA; or (c) levying a regulated infrastructure charge under Chapter 1, Part 1, Division 5 of the SPA.

Water and Wastewater

By 1 July 2011, South East Queensland (SEQ) local governments are to advise the State Government as to whether they will 'opt out' of the Distributor-retailer arrangements, in preference to going back to the former local government water and wastewater activities.

Where the local government stays 'in' the Distributor-retailer arrangements, then under the Bill, the SPRP (Adopted Charges) will establish a proportional split for an adopted infrastructure charge as between the Distributor-retailer and the local government (until 30 June 2013, being the intended end of their 3 year interim SPA provisions).

A distributor-retailer's board then may decide to adopt a charge for supplying trunk infrastructure in relation to its water service or wastewater service, up to the relevant proportion of the maximum adopted charge for the infrastructure.  If no such decision is made, the 'standard amount' will apply.

The 'standard amount' for a distributor-retailer will be either:

  1. If its participating local government has made an adopted infrastructure charges resolution which is applicable to the area in which the trunk infrastructure for the charge is supplied – the amount of the distributor-retailer's relevant proportion of the adopted infrastructure charge immediately before the resolution takes effect.
  2. Otherwise – the distributor-retailer's relevant proportion of the adopted infrastructure charge (being here, the lesser of the MAC for the infrastructure, or a charge equivalent to the pre-SPRP amount for development for which the charge is levied) (see clause 36 of the Bill).

A distributor-retailer will be able to levy a charge (either the charge adopted by the board if one exists, or otherwise, the 'standard amount') for supplying trunk infrastructure in relation to its water service or wastewater service, on and from the 'standard charge day' (i.e. the day the SPRP (adopted changes) first has effect). To achieve this, a distributor-retailer must give a person an adopted infrastructure charges notice, and like the local government – that notice may only be given in relation to a development approval or compliance permit.

Closing Comments

It will be interesting to consider development statistics over the years ahead with the commencement of the SPRP (adopted charges) as a key date, and whether conclusions will be easily drawn that this Bill has made 'our infrastructure-charging system in Queensland much more transparent and simple' and 'dramatically increase certainty'.

In the meantime, legal questions shroud its introduction – particularly as to the transitional arrangements and by implication – the extent to which infrastructure agreements can (in light of proposed new sections 648K and 755MA of the SPA) and will seek to deal with any issues that arise in relation to perceived inequities.

Finally, it remains to be seen how the three-year moratorium on the collection of local function charges for transport infrastructure will be achieved, given it is not addressed in the Bill.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.