Questions over $1b in rental bonds as ‘new deal’ laws are passed

The Queensland government has passed laws to guarantee funding for the Residential Tenancies Authority, but the opposition is concerned about $1 billion in rental bonds.

May 25, 2022, updated May 25, 2022
Treasurer Cameron Dick  (AAP Image/Darren England)

Treasurer Cameron Dick (AAP Image/Darren England)

The RTA will receive $35 million in fixed annual funding under the amendments, which passed state parliament on Tuesday night.

Previously, the authority has been self-funded from investment returns on $1 billion rental bonds it holds for tenants.

Treasurer Cameron Dick says the changes will shield the RTA’s income from economic headwinds.

“The challenges of global financial markets have delivered year-to-date negative returns on the RTA’s investment portfolio, which mean it has lost money,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

“These amended laws establish a transparent and reliable funding model.”

Dick said the changes would not affect the $1 billion in rental bonds or how tenants and the RTA interacted.

The Liberal National Party claimed the changes could allow the government to use rental bond holdings to improve its own balance sheet ahead of next month’s budget.

“A tricky-fingered Labor government has demonstrated that it will use dodgy accounting, valuations and any non-disclosure of financial dealings to avoid a ratings agency downgrade because of its indiscriminate, large-scale borrowings, shattering the Queensland balance sheet,” LNP MP Ray Stevens told parliament on Tuesday.

Dick rejected the claim, saying rental bonding were already part of the government’s balance sheet and the changes would not affect the state’s net debt.

“There will be no increase to the value of assets or liabilities shown on the general government sector balance sheet because of the changes,” he said on Wednesday.

The amendments also put the Queensland Revenue Office in charge of collecting fines and penalties issued by the Department of Transport and Main Roads and police.

The changes also allow the office’s State Penalties Enforcement Registry to seize and sell property, such as cars, boats and motorcycles, owned by people who refuse to pay large debts.

Dick said those changes were expected to increase repayments by more than $20 million in the next 12 months.

“This will ensure money owed to the state is recovered faster and more efficiently so it can be used to deliver the important infrastructure and critical emergency services Queenslanders rely on,” the treasurer said.

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