Back to the bad old days as council’s bay island sell-off revives a 50-year hangover

A south-east Queensland council is still dealing with the hangover from a notorious round of dodgy land deals involving southern Moreton Bay island properties nearly 50 years ago.

Oct 20, 2021, updated Oct 20, 2021
Russell Island's ferry terminal

Russell Island's ferry terminal

Redland City Council is preparing to auction off more than 20 properties next week in an effort to recover some of the $9 million in unpaid rates on its books.

Several properties in the forced sale are on the bay islands, where unscrupulous developers sold land with no roads, electricity or water services to unsuspecting interstate investors looking for a good deal.

A promised bridge to one of the islands never eventuated and many of the properties sold were unsuitable for housing.

The council, which was handed control of the islands in 1973, has been trying to deal with the problem ever since, regularly holding auctions to recover overdue rates.

In previous sales, the council has been at pains to warn prospective buyers to do their due diligence.

Since the 1970s, the islands’ combined population has grown to about 7000 residents, with the community gaining vital infrastructure, facilities and services over the years.

Next Wednesday’s sale will involve 22 properties, with most of them vacant blocks located on Russell and Macleay Islands.

However, the Government Gazette last Friday listed nearly 60 properties for auction by the council.

A council spokeswoman explained the discrepancy by saying there were extensive efforts to settle the issue with property owners before the sales go ahead.

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“Council is in contact with all property owners, who have until auction day to correct the arrears, in which case their property would not be auctioned,” she said.

“Council has a range of assistance options for customers who are experiencing difficulty in paying rates and charges, including short-term extensions and flexible payment arrangements.

“An auction is the last in a long line of actions, sometimes extending over years, which Council undertakes to recover rates; and a property is auctioned only after all other avenues to recover rates have been exhausted.”

She said the auction was expected to recover about $255,000 in rates owed by property owners.

Queensland councils are empowered to recover rates by selling properties, usually after rates have been overdue for three years or more.

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