THE ‘incompetent’ Queensland Coastal Management Plan poses a more immediate threat to the state’s housing and construction sector than the Carbon Tax, according to the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA).

UDIA Qld CEO and general counsel Brian Stewart says the price on carbon will have adverse long-term impacts, but the Queensland Coastal Plan sends ‘shivers’ down his spine.

Speaking at the UDIA Gold Coast-Logan’s AGM on the Gold Coast, Stewart says the organisation’s alternate plan will be finalised next week and presented to the State Government and the LNP Opposition.

The organisation has submitted what it calls simple questions and a request for a consultation on the plan to four State Government ministers since April - but not for a single response.

“As with much of the policy that’s come out of DERM in the last three to four years, (the Coastal Plan) is based very heavily on politics and not on scientific policy. We’ll be putting an alternative solution to dealing with this problem to the state government and we’ve already talked with Campbell Newman about it,” says Stewart.

“Our solution will be that there should be an appropriate level of exposure in respect to properties that have been appropriately identified under that plan. It provides consumers with fair warning, it allows the market to adjust over a significant period of time, and it also allows us to look at the issues from a private ownership point-of-view.

“We’ll have a very comprehensive policy that we’ll be able to take very strongly to the opposition because quite frankly what has been proposed is unworkable, it’s inappropriate and it’s very bad policy.”

The 108-page Queensland Coastal Plan is in the final stages of legislation and contains several amendments to the Coastal Protection and Management Act 1995.

Heavier regulation on development in Queensland’s coastal regions is the underlying policy, with strict engineering conditions expected to drive up costs and make those builds which gain approval financially unviable.

Stewart highlights that while preserving coastal environments is a serious issue, the Department of Environment and Resources Management (DERM) is hiding from the real debate.

“It’s a very complex document that will send shivers down your spine; it’s sending shivers down the spines of everyone in the industry,” says Stewart.

“It provides a plan for dealing with a potential major threat to our communities and of course it has to be taken very seriously. What it does not do is identify very clearly upfront, that there’s a fundamental policy decision that has to be taken by our politicians. They have to stand up in front of the document and say ‘we believe this is so substantial that we must act today -we must interfere with private property rights today, to protect the future’.

“It hides that behind about 100 pages of process and mapping and plans. It confuses and conceals the real subject for debate, which is ‘should we do it right now?’ It’s hidden behind access to beaches; it’s hidden behind a number of other aspects and that’s what’s objectionable about the plan today.”

At the Gold Coast-Logan AGM, Stewart also spoke briefly about the impacts of the carbon tax. He says the Federal Government’s silence on the forecasted impacts on industry could be viewed as ‘a conspiracy’.

“Regardless of the concessions being made to steel in the Prime Minister’s latest plan, there is still a figure which we don’t know, that will be added on to the cost of every house as soon as the system is implemented,” he says.

“Commonwealth’s treasury should know what it is and should be able to let us know. So far, the Federal Government has been totally silent on that (and) quite frankly I see that as a conspiracy of sorts.

“If they’ve done the costings, why aren’t they being released to our industry? This is a sector that needs to be compensated if there will be increased costs overnight. It’s only part of the total responsible package in implementing a new taxation scheme.”

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