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Joint Committee on the Valuation Policies and Charges on Retirement Villages

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY (19:45): In the lead-up to the 2018 election, the Liberals gave an undertaking that a parliamentary committee would be established to inquire into the valuation policies and charges on retirement villages. In my contribution to the motion to establish this committee, I gave quite some background to this matter and outlined some of the problems, including the interaction between valuations and charges levied by councils, by RevenueSA in respect of the emergency service levy and by SA Water.

In short, the valuation determined by the Valuer-General has an effect on these charges, especially if an assessment is made on the value of each individual independent living unit within a retirement village, rather than having a value for the entire village as a whole. There was a shift in valuation policy in 2015, which resulted in huge increases for some retirement villages. Although I met and contacted the Valuer-General repeatedly about this issue, it remained unresolved. A memorandum of understanding was signed between affected agencies, which served as a band-aid solution to the problem.

The committee heard evidence from a range of witnesses, including the South Australian Retirement Villages Residents Association, SA Water and the Valuer-General, and received submissions from a range of stakeholders, including the Local Government Association, the Property Council and individuals. The Local Government Association and Onkaparinga and Adelaide Hills councils all provided submissions that outlined potential revenue implications if villages were valued as one with a tenancy apportionment allocated to each unit.

Onkaparinga and Adelaide Hills councils are the only metropolitan councils that charge a fixed charge. However, the Local Government Association noted that shopping centres have a tenancy assessment for each individual shop and that each tenancy is subject to a fixed charge, as councils are able to charge separate rates on separate occupancies. If councils are able to do this for shopping centres then I can see no problem as to why it cannot be done for retirement villages also.

It is important to note that, at the beginning of 2019, South Australia appointed a new Valuer-General, Ms Katherine Bartolo. Not long after starting in the position, Ms Bartolo appeared before the committee and was questioned about a policy she did not make. This was an issue that Ms Bartolo inherited when she took the position. Ms Bartolo identified three different ways to resolve this problem and indicated that her preferred method was to create one assessment record for each retirement village as a whole and provide a tenancy apportionment for each individual living unit. This would result in one assessment record for government rating authorities, but would still satisfy local government requirements.

The Property Council were also supportive of single assessment for an entire village, but with the caveat that the value should be the total value of all individual units bundled together. Ironically, this is the very solution I had been suggesting to the previous Valuer-General for 4½ years and had been repeatedly rejected. Even more ironically, had the joint committee not been established at the end of 2018, the new Valuer-General may have changed the valuation policy for retirement villages when she took the role, and residents would not have had to wait so long for a response to this issue.

I am pleased that this is ultimately the solution that the committee has recommended going forward. In acknowledging that such a change will have an almost immediate impact on rating agencies like SA Water, RevenueSA and councils, the committee recommended that transitional provisions be provided for by way of a bill and that consultation with key stakeholders on the bill should occur before the introduction of the bill. As part of this process, consideration should be given to concession payments and what impacts such a change would have, if any.

Finally, the committee also identified issues with regard to waste management in retirement villages and has recommended that further consultation be undertaken on this issue to better understand the issue. I want to thank other members of the committee: the member for Waite, Mr Sam Duluk, who served as the Chair; the member for Morphett, Mr Stephen Patterson MP; the member for Lee, the Hon. Stephen Mullighan; the Hon. Justin Hanson; and the Hon. Terry Stephens. I also want to thank the committee staff, Mr Shannon Riggs and Ms Kate Bryson, for their hard work. I commend the recommendation of the joint committee to the council.

The Hon. T.J. STEPHENS (19:51): I would like to thank the Hon. John Darley for his contribution. We were always pleased that the Hon. John Darley really did lead the discussion in the committee. I thank him for his contribution.

Motion carried.