AN elected Liberal Nationals state government will make rates fairer for farmers across Victoria, and prioritise an independent inquiry into farm rates in Victoria.
The inquiry’s terms of reference would direct that it must deliver “actionable recommendations” that help to make rates fair for farmers across Victoria.
According to the Liberal Nationals, the terms of reference would ensure comprehensive consultation with farmers and the Victorian Farmers Federation.
The rate cap limit will be applied to all rating categories while the review is undertaken.
Shadow agriculture minister Peter Walsh said rural communities were built around farming industries, which supported thousands of jobs directly and indirectly across the state.
“Farming families are already under pressure from drought, rising energy and water prices, and a swag of new taxes from the Andrews Labor government,” he said.
“We can’t afford for them to be rated out of existence.”
Shadow local government minister David Morris said farmers had called for rates relief.
“With farm rates increasing nearly 30 percent in some shires, farmers are rightly asking why their rates are skyrocketing when other councils have been able to keep increases modest,” he said.
“The Liberal Nationals are committed to easing the cost of living, and that includes fairer rates for all our farmers.”
VFF president David Jochinke said the Liberal National announcement of an inquiry into rates was the first sign any of the major parties or candidates had heard farmers’ repeated calls that “enough is enough” on the issue of Victoria’s unfair and unsustainable rating system.
“The commitment to an independent inquiry on rates represents a significant breakthrough for the VFF’s 2018 state election campaign, but farmers will still be seeking further details and definite timelines in relation to any review,” he said.
“The VFF calls on the other parties to match the Coalition’s commitment on rates at a bare minimum.
“The VFF maintains our rating system is completely broken and needs to be demolished, then rebuilt to ensure a fairer deal for farmers.
“Farmers are continuing to say ‘enough is enough’.”