Member of Lions Club – State Parliament
The rates review announced by the Labor State Government this week has missed the boat in relation to specifically reviewing farm rates, according to Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull.
“The terms of reference indicate the review will consider current rates and charges, current rating exemptions and concessions and the autonomy of councils to provide rates.
“The Nationals promised pre-election a review that specifically looked into farm rates and in particular the unfair significant increases in that sector.
“Labor’s Local Government Minister, Adem Somyurek, was asked in Parliament this week to explain why a review into rates fails to address the number one issue facing farmers.
“The Minister made the bizarre claim that the rates cap “stops rates increasing”, but what we have seen in some councils is 30% increases in the farm rate category, while the overall council rate increase fits within the 2.5% rate cap rise as other rating sectors have limited, or no, increases – this is unfair.
“We had a chance with this rate review to specifically address this in the terms of reference, but it has not occurred.
“Two weeks ago VFF President David Jochinke, who I spoke with on the issue this week, confirmed the peak farmer’s representative body ‘was not consulted during the development of the terms of reference for this review’.
Mr Bull said he would push to have strong farmer representation in the review’s public hearings and hope the recommendations would address the situation, despite the non-specific terms of reference.
Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh said the Minister’s response showed Labor was out of touch with country Victoria.
“The Andrews Labor Government has completely missed the point of this rates review if it thinks its failed rates cap has been a success.
“Farmers who saw their rates rise by 30 per cent last year will completely disagree with the Minister’s bizarre claim,” Mr Walsh said.
On the East Gippsland Shire’s draft budget which projects a 12% overall farm rate increase, Mr Bull said he’d been in productive discussions with the CEO and Mayor and was hopeful of an adjustment between the draft budget and final budget.
Caption: Gippsland East Nationals MP Tim Bull, is critical that the Labor Government’s rates review does not address unfair farm rates increases.