8 June 2021
The Hon. J.A. DARLEY (14:59): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Treasurer a question concerning reimbursement of residents of retirement villages who were overcharged for services due to past inconsistent practices of the Valuer-General.
The Hon. J.A. DARLEY: Since asking a question in this chamber on 6 May, I have received additional advice from the Office of the Valuer-General on 19 May that 15,506 independent living units in 384 retirement villages are affected, requiring changes to their valuation configuration, contrary to the figure of 12,000 units provided by the Treasurer today in respect of my question on 6 May.
The Joint Committee on Retirement Villages reversed the Valuer-General's reckless decision of July 2015 to create a separate assessment policy for each living unit, which resulted in significant rises in service charges. For 2½ years from the commencement of the joint committee until 1 July this year, these residents have been subject to unfair billing, and dating back a further 2½ years prior to the joint committee's establishment to 1 July 2015.
SA Water notes on its website, 'We are changing the way we assess and bill retirement villages to ensure fairer billing.' SA Water is to be commended for acknowledging the need for fairer billing, but the amount collected over the five-year period needs to be reimbursed, consistent with practices we expect in other industries where charges are found to be inappropriate. Similarly, the emergency services levy and sewerage charges should be examined.
My question to the Treasurer is: I am again asking whether the 15,506 independent living occupiers in the 384 retirement villages will be reimbursed the amount in excess of $20 million, that they paid in good faith, arising from a reckless and inequitable policy of the Valuer-General?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer) (15:02): With great respect to the honourable member, the answer is the same as the first time he asked the question: the answer is no. I do point out that the Valuer-General in 2015 was a different Valuer-General to the current Valuer-General.
The PRESIDENT: Supplementary, the Hon. Mr Darley.
The Hon. J.A. DARLEY (15:02): Does the Treasurer seriously intend to go to the next election with some $1,500 owing to elderly South Australians who are occupiers of 15,506 independent living units in retirement villages and who were ripped off by these changes?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer) (15:03): I am not sure that I can add anything more to the answer I gave to the first question and the answer I gave previously, and that is that these decisions were taken by the former government, the former Valuer-General, back in I think 2015, and we are not in a position to correct all of the sins and errors of former administrations.