In its report on cutting red tape last year, the Queensland Competition Authority noted that “the Government will consult with local government in late 2013 on a regulatory reform program for local governments.” This consultation obviously didn’t achieve much, because major local governments such as Townsville City Council haven’t got the regulatory reform message yet. For example, it’s reported in today’s Townsville Bulletin that a number of properties of dubious heritage value have been secretly added to Townsville’s heritage register, meaning the owners are now restricted regarding the modifications they can make to the properties (see Dirty dozen get heritage stamp). The silliness of the heritage listings is made clear in a comment from one of the property owners, who points out her house doesn’t really have any heritage value:
The owner of a red brick home in Belgian Gardens, who did not want to be identified, said it would have been nice to know of council’s intention to add her home as a site of heritage value.
“It is a lovely house but it is not even an old Queenslander,” she said.
“I don’t know why I wasn’t told, I should have had a courtesy letter.”
Townsville City Council is a repeat offender on silly heritage listings, but there are possibly similar examples in other parts of Queensland, as well as examples of unnecessary and costly applications of other regulations at the local government level. The Queensland Government needs to revive its local government regulatory reform agenda, and it might be worthwhile for it to commission the QCA to undertake a thorough review of regulations at the local government level.
Previous posts on heritage issues by me and my former colleague Brad Rogers include: