Cruel loophole denies Qld first home buyers $15k grant

 

Aspiring property owners applying for a much-needed $15,000 First Home Buyers Grant in Queensland have been cruelly knocked back thanks to a mind-blowing technicality.

In one recent case, a young couple bought a brand new house on the Sunshine Coast that had never been occupied or previously sold as a place of residence. It also had never been used as a display home.

But, in a stunning act of bloody-mindedness, the Office of State Revenue rejected their application for the rebate, throwing their financial calculus for the $540,000 purchase into disarray.

The reason?

"The property was sold as a place of residence for the first time when it was transferred from the developer to the builder,'' an OSR bureaucrat noted in her letter to the stunned pair.

"It then follows that your purchase of the property was the second time the property had been sold as a place of residence.''

Brisbane lawyer and consumer advocate Tim O'Dwyer said he was gobsmacked by the logic—or lack thereof.
Brisbane lawyer and consumer advocate Tim O'Dwyer said he was gobsmacked by the logic—or lack thereof.

Making matters worse, the decision specifically referred to a tribunal ruling in June that upheld OSR's ability to reject the grant in another similar case.

Tim O'Dwyer, a Brisbane lawyer and consumer advocate for those facing real estate dramas, said he was gobsmacked by the logic-or lack thereof.

"This is the first time I've seen anything as nitpicky as this from a government department,'' he told City Beat.

"It's appalling that they have let this happen and haven't publicised it for the benefit of the real estate industry, the legal profession, the building industry and the little first home buyers out there.''

Real Estate Institute of Queensland CEO Antonia Mercorella said home buyers need to do their homework.
Real Estate Institute of Queensland CEO Antonia Mercorella said home buyers need to do their homework.

"The Law Society and the REIQ and Master Builders ought to have been made aware of that decision and notified all their members. They should now lobby the government to change the law and backdate it so no one misses out.''

We had hoped to find out how widespread this problem is but a Treasury spin doctor said he could not easily access information about reasons for the rejection of applications because it would require a manual review.

Yet it seems certain others will be caught out since the number of first home buyers in the state just hit an 11-year high.

REIQ boss Antonia Mercorella said the case illustrated the importance of buyers doing their homework - even though it's clear they were just trying to play by the rules and weren't out to game the system.

"While it isn't common for the Queensland Government to reject a First Home Buyer's Grant based on technicalities, it's absolutely critical that buyers undertake comprehensive due diligence when purchasing any property,'' she said.

CLASS ACTION

Expect to see a class action launched later this month against state-owned power generators Stanwell and CS Energy.

More than 27,000 Queensland businesses and residents have already signed up to the pending legal case organized by law firm Piper Alderman.

Prices soared at a compound annual growth rate of 8 per cent over the decade to 2017, more than double the rate of inflation and wages in that time.

The firm alleges the power generators deliberately spiked prices through their bidding strategies, thereby abusing their market power. It's estimated the conduct may have cost consumers more than $1bn.

 

A class action is set to be launched later this month against the cost of power prices.
A class action is set to be launched later this month against the cost of power prices.

But Stanwell and CS Energy are fighting back, denying any wrongdoing.

Stanwell has denounced the allegations of market abuse as "selective and misleading,'' noting that it operates in a heavily-regulated sector.

It also warns that Queensland taxpayers will foot the bill for defending the case.

"The class action is opportunistic and funded by an international litigation funder that treats class actions as a means of generating profits,'' it said in statement.

"Stanwell has an impeccable record of compliance with all of the laws and rules which govern our conduct within the National Electricity Market."

BRAIN DRAIN

An existential threat looms over Australia's mining growth and the future of mineral exploration, a key industry body warned this week.

A brain drain over the next 10 years will see up to a third of the country's geoscientists ease into retirement, creating what it called "an alarming deficit'' of skills.

Not only will they be taking a lifetime's worth of knowledge and experience off the field, there are fears that newly-introduced uni courses won't adequately equip the next generation.

Andrew Waltho, president of the Australian Institute of Geoscientists
Andrew Waltho, president of the Australian Institute of Geoscientists

Andrew Waltho, head of the Australian Institute of Geoscientists, said some unis are pivoting towards more general earth science courses which are not grounded in the basics of mineralogy, petrology, structural geology and tectonics.

"The profession faces very real challenges of attracting talented students in sufficient numbers to maintain and build a longer-term resource of well trained, highly skilled geoscience professionals," Waltho said.

DRINK UP

A container refund scheme launched two years ago in Queensland has proved to be stunningly successful.

We learned this weekend that a staggering 3 billion drink containers have been kept out of the environment or buried in landfills thanks to the program, which rebates 10 cents per item.

Putting that in perspective, it's the equivalent of more than 3.6 million wheelie bins or in excess of 871,000 cubic metres of junk in a landfill.

Ken Noye, chief executive of Container Exchange
Ken Noye, chief executive of Container Exchange

Looked at another way, it's had the same effect as taking 113,000 cars of the road permanently or saving the yearly energy use of 275,000 households.

The so-called Containers for Change initiative has also seen more than $3m in donations to charity and sporting groups from all that recycled aluminium, glass, plastic, steel and liquid paperboard.

Ken Noye, who heads the non-profit, said beverage container litter had fallen by more than half.

His group is now targeting an 85 per cent recycling rate at more than 300 drop off points across the state.

SPORTING CHANCE

An innovative online marketplace for sports gear rental aims to expand between Noosa and Byron Bay after just raising $500,000 from a private equity firm.

The business, trading as Quipmo, puts travellers and other adventure seekers in touch with local hire businesses and even people with unused equipment.

It was launched three years ago by entrepreneur Chris Evans as he was knocking out

an MBA at UQ.

Chris Evans, founder and boss of Quipmo
Chris Evans, founder and boss of Quipmo

"I realised the challenge and frustration of finding quality adventure gear when you're travelling and the cost of transporting that gear from home when you head to remote locations was a reoccurring theme," he told us.

"The problem to solve was how to make accessing quality gear for adventurers more efficient, affordable, and readily available."

In an "aha" epiphany he came up with Quipmo-or "equipment for the moment''.

The award-winning venture already has gear listed in 21 countries and has forged 12 major strategic partnerships with world sporting tours and sporting bodies.

"The concept lets adventure travellers do what they love more often," Evans said.

"At the same time, it helps existing hire businesses increase their rentals and allows like-minded locals to make a few bucks off their gear when they are not using it."

Originally published as Cruel loophole denies Qld first home buyers $15k grant


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