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Common Sense Measures

By Dan Sowden

Premier announces common sense measures in aftermath of natural disasters

The enforcement of new pool safety laws will be delayed for six months and Queensland’s statutory land valuations will be postponed for three months in the aftermath of the floods and Cyclone Yasi.

Premier Anna Bligh said the decision to delay the measures was practical in the aftermath of the floods and Cyclone Yasi.

“I have always said that we need to use common sense in the aftermath of these natural disasters to help people get back on their feet as quickly as possible,” said the Premier.

“The State has been through a terrible time and now is not the time to stick rigidly to the rules.

“This is about giving people the breathing space they need to concentrate on putting their lives back together.”

Under legislation introduced on 1 December 2010, all dwellings with a non shared pool must have a valid pool safety certificate before a rental agreement can be entered into.

There are fears the new measures could cause delays as the demand for rental properties increases in the aftermath of the current crisis.

“People with extensive damage to their homes need to be re-housed until they can move back in, and we need to accommodate people who are assisting in the recovery efforts,” said the Premier.

“We cannot afford rental properties to remain vacant while owners wait for a pool safety certificate.”

The Premier said the decision was made following consultation with key stakeholders including the Local Government Association of Queensland, the Real Estate Institute of Queensland and the Pool Safety Council including Hannah’s Foundation.

Under the exemption, pool owners may lease their property without a valid pool safety certificate provided they first give to the tenant a notice alerting the tenant to the fact that the pool may not comply with pool safety laws and may pose a risk to young children.

The Government will introduce amendments into the Parliament this week as part of the Queensland Reconstruction Authority Bill 2011 and they are expected to operate retrospectively from 8 January 2011 for a period of six months.

Ms Bligh added that Queensland’s statutory land valuations, due to be issued next month, will be delayed until the effects of recent extreme weather events can be fully assessed.

“The State Valuer-General Neil Bray has recommended we postpone the release of the new valuations, which were scheduled to be declared by 31 March, to the 30 June 2011,” said the Premier.

“The valuations were assessed in the final months of last year and we now want to ensure that the full impacts of Queensland’s recent extreme weather events are taken into account.”

The amendment to the Land Valuation Act 2010 to defer the valuations, for this year only, would also be part of the Queensland Reconstruction Authority Bill 2011.

The Premier said fair and accurate valuations would be an important part of the rebuilding process in many regions.

“This will affect most local government areas across the State,’’ she said.

“Valuations are a key reference in the budget modelling of local governments and the Valuer-General will work closely with local governments to ensure that they receive the new valuation data as early as possible.’’

Valuers will now inspect properties and use spatial imagery to make valuation adjustments where necessary. Information compiled during the recent flood and cyclone events along with historical data also would be reviewed to assess impacts on property values.

“For example, in Brisbane’s western and south-western suburbs, valuers may take into consideration the effect the 1974 floods had on property valuations and factor that into the latest information they have on the 2011 flood levels,” said Ms Bligh.

But Queensland’s Valuer-General Neil Bray has forecast that the full impact of recent natural disasters on the market value of land throughout Queensland may not be evident for some time.

“Based on past experiences the evidence indicates there are impacts on property prices following flood events”, Mr Bray said.

“The current property market is being monitored by the State Valuation Service.There is currently a low volume of sales which now include a limited number of ‘forced sales’ or those inundated properties now selling at below pre-flood market levels.

“In future years the Annual Valuation program will reflect new property market levels.”

The Valuer-General will now issue new statutory land valuations to over 1.6 million landowners in 58 local governments across Queensland prior to 30 June.

Media contacts

Valuations: 0417 154 660

Pool Safety: 3227 8425

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