One of the biggest issues still simmering in rural and regional Victoria is the growing rating burden. That’s because farmers are continuing to receive exorbitant notices and have been very active in making their dissatisfaction known to councils.
On a local level we have seen large attendances at meetings, with farmers spilling out of venues to raise their concerns.
Sadly, the response from many councils has been poor, so you can expect more of these events before November’s state election.
The VFF is also encouraging farmers with concerns to appeal their rates notice/land valuations, and is producing a guide to help members outline their objections and submit these to their council.
We’ve also seen the need for a full review of the rates system raised in State Parliament, but with 12 weeks left until the election, we’re still looking for firm commitments.
It’s time for farmers and their supporters to start taking their rates concerns to their state members and candidates.
Farmers want to contribute to their communities but the current system of calculating rates is broken. Unless something is done, we run the risk of rating many farmers out of existence. Victoria cannot afford to let this happen.
We recognise councils need funding to deliver infrastructure and services, however, farmers cannot bear all the costs. Farmers are also rightfully questioning why they are facing such significant rate hikes, while still not having access to many of the services city-based Victorians take for granted. Why should we pay more, but get less than our friends in the city?
Candidates seeking to get elected at the end of November could do a few things to secure support among farmers. Key among these would be to address the rates issue.