Caravan Park Residents Fear Gst

Illawarra Mercury

Tuesday February 15, 2000

By DAVID ILIFFE

More than 1750 caravan park residents across the Illawarra and South Coast are celebrating new laws which will stop them being treated as second-class citizens.

Around 100 gathered at Windang Bowling Club yesterday for a Residential Parks seminar, organised by the Affiliated Park Residents Association of NSW (APRA), to brief them on changes to the Residential Parks Act 1999.

Wollongong MP Colin Markham opened the seminar saying changes to the Act would mean major improvements to the lifestyle of permanent park residents.

``Increased knowledge by residents should help to reduce disputes and lead to a more harmonious lifestyle," he said.

APRA state coordinator Jim Clarke said changes to the Act would empower residents.

``We've always had a voice, but now we'll have some teeth to go with the voice," he said.

He said the Act included major changes in respect to rent rises and offered residents more scope to challenge them.

``It also establishes liaison committees, which must have a majority of residents in them, so they can talk to park owners about how their lifestyles are going and about the recreation rooms and the facilities are being maintained and about the rules," he said.

``They're not a decision-making body. They're just an advisory body but they can play an important role."

However, residents at yesterday's meeting believe their biggest battle will be against Federal Government plans to apply the Goods and Services Tax to residential caravan park rentals.

At present residential rentals on house flats and apartments will not attract GST.

However those living in relocatable homes and caravans will have the tax added to their weekly rent.

The Government has classified residential parks as commercial premises, thereby incurring GST at a rate of 10 per cent for the first 27 days of residence, and five per cent from then on.

According to Oaklands Village Caravan Park residents Kevin and Doreen White the problem lies in the definition of relocatable home.

``My house is locked in and it's got a verandah and a garden all around it," Mr White said.

``They're not mobile homes. And we're living in a village, not a tourist park. But now this GST is coming along we don't know what will happen. How much more can they take?"

© 2000 Illawarra Mercury

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