10 January 2018
This article was republished from The Courier Mail, and written by Matthew Killoran
A TOP tourism body is calling for the Federal Government to step in and stop councils from charging an “un-Australian toilet tax”, amid fears it is being passed on to tourists.
The Accommodation Association of Australia says many local governments in north Queensland are hitting hoteliers with a charge per toilet pedestal “in a blatant money grab”, labelling Townsville City Council one of the worst offenders.
They say it has already forced some accommodation operators to pass on costs to consumers, close down rooms or even remove toilets.
But Townsville Council and the Local Government Association say hotels are not treated any differently to other commercial properties.
Some northern Queensland councils slug commercial properties, including hotels, a charge per toilet pedestal, rather than a flat rate or for the actual number they use.
For example, the Townsville City Council charges $909 per pedestal, so a 100-room hotel would be slugged $90,900 regardless of occupancy rates.
Other councils in the state’s north also charge by the pedestal, including Cairns, Bundaberg, Rockhampton and Mackay.
Accommodation Association chief executive Richard Munro said the impost was preventing hoteliers from reinvesting in their property.
“That such a charge should even exist is bordering on being un-Australian, let alone the financial pain it causes accommodation businesses because of the quantum of toilet taxes,” he said.
He said the Federal Government should consider withholding funding for councils unless they dropped the tax.
Townsville Water and Waste general manager Scott Moorhead said the fee applied to all non-residential properties, not just hotels and motels.
“It’s not an additional cost; it replaces sewerage charges,” he said. “The sewerage network costs money to build and maintain, and the fee contributes to that. The more toilets you have, the bigger the load — it’s quite simple.”