Labor still stalling on drought rate subsidies
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Labor still stalling on drought rate subsidies

Labor still won’t commit to subsiding local councils for farmer rates in drought stricken areas of East Gippsland.
“In the drought forums we had pre-Christmas, some which the Minister attended, individual landholders had many different ideas about government support for drought affected farmers, including from water cartage support, power bill subsidies for those running pumps, super subsidies for when it does finally rain and fodder subsidies just to name a few,” said Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull.
“However, there was a general consensus that council rate relief (where the State Government would pay rates to councils on behalf of farmers, so councils were no worse off), was the fairest and most even handed way to offer support.
“This would have a double impact of freeing up funds for landholders to spend in their specific areas of need and also supporting the local economy when those funds were spent, noting that our rural businesses also suffer in times of drought.
“The previous Labor Minister repeatedly said because rates weren’t due until February, it would be considered in the New Year.
“As a result of this comment, I wrote to the Minister and Premier a fortnight ago seeking they introduce this drought measure. However, despite not hearing back as yet, the new Minister has dismissed that entirely, saying rates are squarely a matter for local councils.
“The fact it was not discussed with local farmers or given any serious consideration is very disappointing,” Mr Bull said.
He vowed not to give up the fight and urged the Government to take urgent action.
What Labor said pre-election…
“We’re in September now and rates aren’t due until February. Until we know what the rainfall is going to do, making a decision on rates is premature.” – Then Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford, The Weekly Times, September 5.
“People's rates aren't due to be settled with councils until February, so we've got a little bit of time to still consider that.” – Then Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford, ABC Gippsland, October 4.
What Labor says post-election…
“Rates are squarely a matter for local councils.” – New Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes, Gippsland Times, February 5.
Monday, February 11, 2019