Rates relief through better spending

Rates relief through better spending

It is simple – Canberra should be an affordable place to live for everybody.

One of the most common requests raised with me while campaigning is rates relief. Rates in Canberra have risen sharply since 2012, putting enormous pressure on ACT families.

Since the 2016 election, overall tax collected by the ACT Government has increased from just below the national average, to the highest in the country. The increased cost of living, at a time of stagnant wages growth, positioned Canberrans especially poorly for the beginning of the Covid-19 economic downturn.

I will fight to lower rates and the cost of living.

The policies put forward by other parties – to freeze rates – are an irresponsible way to hide the real problems at election time. The policy of both parties will come back to bite us all harder as soon as the freeze period is over. Instead, we need to consider the root causes of the rates increases. We need meaningful rates relief.

Wasteful spending and lack of planning

The elimination of wasteful spending is the first area we should focus on to reduce our rates bills. 

Gungahlin is a continual mess of construction, road duplication, backtracking, and fixing planning mistakes. Contractors who get paid to do and then re-do the work are the real winners. This all puts upward pressure on our rates.

A few examples of waste that didn’t need to happen:

  • Sections of Horse Park Drive were in service for a mere 14 months before needing duplication. 14 months is NOT value for money.
  • Mitchell should have had a Light Rail stop from the start. The Labor/Greens coalition say that under-utilised Light Rail stops don’t matter because it is city-building infrastructure. In the same breath, they say that Mitchell didn’t warrant a stop then, but they are ready for it now. If Light Rail is infrastructure-first development, why was Mitchell different? Are we paying for political retaliation against the Mitchell Traders?
  • Gungahlin Police Station was built as a part time, shared building for a population of 25,000. Not only must we now pay for a new station, we are suffering the consequences of an under-resourced police force.
  • Gungahlin Drive clearly needed to be dual carriageway from day 1, but was built as a single lane each way before being re-done.
  • Gundaroo Drive/Barton Highway roundabout was signalised with a prediction that it will need a proper solution in 12 years, but that timeline is already looking shaky.
  • The $31 million Gundaroo Drive duplication stage 1 took 18 months+ longer than it should have because nobody realised where the utilities where buried.

Rates relief is in reach, and not just as an election sweetener.

Local parking revenue taken by the Federal Treasury

As well as targeting wasteful spending, I will demanding our fair share of revenue raised on NCA land.

The Federal Government directed The National Capital Authority to implement paid parking on NCA land, and to hand over 100% of this revenue to the Federal government. We are the only place that pays parking fees and fines to the rest of Australia.

This should never have been allowed by our representatives at COAG, and needs to stop. $20 million per year is nothing for the Federal Government, but it represents 10% of the rates bills of an average Gungahlin household. Parking fines only increases this number.


  • Eliminate interest charges on late rates payments.
  • Demand that NCA direct parking revenue to Canberra.
  • Support policies that make spending on current services more efficient, while maintaining the same baseline of services Canberrans currently enjoy.
  • Oppose the addition of new services that are already provided efficiently by the private sector.
  • Support local businesses to provide services in a more efficient and targeted way than can be provided by government.


2 thoughts on “Rates relief through better spending

  1. Clare Williams

    I must confess I resent having my rates increased for the sake of the Light Rail, It is infrastructure I voted against and will never use but its cost has caused my rates to go up by approx. $200 per annum. How about doing what NSW did when they wanted to build the Sydney Opera House and start a lottery. The money from the Canberra lottery could be put towards a number of capital works projects, without having to raise our rates to pay for it all. It’s just one suggestion.

    1. David Pollard Post author

      Interesting suggestion. I know broadly how it worked for Sydney, but I’ll have to do some digging into the specifics. I assume there was a review as to the success of the lottery in terms of social outcomes, not just financial. I’ll see what I can find.

      Alternate revenue sources to more and more rates is definitely something I am looking for.


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