News

Query on cap’s non-inclusion

By Country News

The Victorian Government has been criticised by the Opposition and the VFF for excluding the rates cap in its local government rating system review.

Local Government Minister Adem Somyurek outlined the timeframes and terms of reference for the Labor Government’s review of the local government rating system on April 17.

The Fair Go Rates Cap, which has stopped a decade of average annual six per cent increases, will remain in place.

Mr Somyurek was asked in parliament recently why the rates cap was not included in the review.

His answer was: ‘‘The rate capping does not narrow the scope of the review. What it does is it stops rates from increasing, right? So if you want to get rid of rate capping, that means you are for ratepayers paying more rates.’’

The response was criticised by Shadow Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh, who described the claim as ‘‘bizarre’’.

‘‘The Andrews Labor Government has completely missed the point of this rates review if it thinks its failed rates cap has been a success,’’ Mr Walsh said.

VFF president David Jochinke said his organisation was ‘‘disappointed’’ it was not consulted.

‘‘We are also severely disappointed that the VFF, a key stakeholder acting on behalf of thousands of farmers contributing significantly to Victoria’s economy, was not consulted during the development of the terms of reference for this review.’’

This was despite a tweet by the organisation on February 25 which said VFF Grains president Ross Johns and Mr Jochinke had debated the issue with Mr Somyurek, who responded to the Opposition’s concerns.

‘‘If Peter Walsh really wanted to help out ratepayers in regional Victoria he wouldn’t have stood by while the Morrison Government ripped $230million from local councils,’’ he said.

‘‘This is about ensuring we have a rating system that is fair, equitable and effective for all Victorians.’’

The review will be undertaken by an independent panel led by former Royal Children’s Hospital and City of Melbourne chief executive officer Dr Kathy Alexander.

Victorians will be able to put their views to the panel and participate in the review process, with the panel to deliver its recommendations to government in March 2020.

■For more information on the review, visit: www.localgovernment.vic.gov.au