Continuing concerns over farm rate hikes

John Buxton, Bundalaguah


FARMERS are opening their rates notices and some massive increases are generating despair, shock and anger.

We have examples of the following increases:

Stradbroke, where the bill has gone up from $24,000 to $39,000, an increase of 62 per cent.

Darriman, where the bill has gone up from $22,796 to $37,234, an increase of 63 per cent.

Stratford, where the bill has gone up from $14,030 to $16,202, an increase of 15.48 per cent (and that is on top of a 24 per cent increase last year).

Peasondale, where the bill has increased from $4556 to $6359, an increase of 40 per cent.

Giffard, where the bill has gone from $33,394 to $53,465, an increase of 60 per cent.

How much more do we have to take?

The public statement on the flyer that came with this year’s rates notice: “Council freezes its overall rate income at zero per cent in 20-21” is poles apart from the reality that we are experiencing.

We have commended the shire for its approach and the intention of no increase in the rate take, but it is very obvious that this spirit is not being extended to one particular group in the community.

In response to this, the Gippsland branch of the VFF has again written a letter requesting Wellington Shire to come to the table and set up a working group between the shire and farmers to work out how to make the rating system more equitable, and put a stop to these exponential increases.

This is the third time we have made this request. It is a constructive request, and we want to work towards a good outcome.

Once again, we have been unsuccessful.

This is not acceptable, and is not in the spirit in which a government and elected representatives should treat the people they represent.

Government’s first responsibility is to look after the people they represent.

The VFF therefore is calling on all candidates in the upcoming local government election to announce their position on fair rates and to support a review of Wellington Shire’s rating strategy.

A newly-elected council needs to work with the farming community.