There has been a lot in the media lately (e.g. The Age, Jan 26) about housing affordability in Australia, and lack thereof. There are lots of reasons for this, and I haven’t done the research to come to a firm opinion myself.

However, in the course of work I have come across something called the “IPA” (Integrated Planning Act, 1997) under which Queensland local governments levy infrastructure charges on developers to cover the cost of infrastructure.

In other words, if you are a developer wishing to create a suburban subdivision, say on the outskirts of Brisbane, you will need to come up with the money to, inter alia:

* build the necessary local streets
* upgrade any regional roads that are affected by the new subdivision
* build or upgrade sewers, local and regional
* build or upgrade stormwater drains, retarding basins and associated works
* build local parks
* build footpaths

Now this money has to come from somewhere, and the upshot that that potentially tens of thousands of dollars is added to the cost of each suburban house block for essential infrastructure costs.

I’m not naive and I know that money has to come from somewhere. Nonetheless, I do wonder if this is the most equitable way of providing infrastructure. I can’t help feel that regional infrastructure (such as main roads and trunk sewers) should be funded by the community as a whole. I am sure – though I’m willing to be proved wrong – that this is how the extensive suburban development of the 50s through to the 90s was funded.