Victorian Opposition calls for rate freeze for state’s farmers

By Rodney Woods

The Victorian Opposition is calling for a freeze on farm rates to support farmers struggling with financial pressure caused by both the bushfires and the coronavirus pandemic.

Councils are currently reviewing their budgets to allow for the changed economic conditions caused by these serious and unprecedented challenges.

The Opposition said a freeze on farm rates this financial year would provide producers certainty as they work to keep supermarket shelves fully stocked.

“After dealing with the impact of catastrophic bushfires, years of drought and now the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic, our farmers need some certainty,” Shadow Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh said.

“A freeze on farm rates for this financial year makes sense and will be a welcome relief at a time when it’s desperately needed.”

This call is in addition to the Opposition asking all councils to consider a complete rate freeze this financial year to help all Victorians.

“The state government must come to the party and support councils that are offering rate relief, and particularly councils in areas where there will be a lot of ratepayers that are going to do it very, very hard,” Shadow Local Government Minister Tim Smith said.

In response, a government spokesperson said the Andrews Government would have more to say on further assistance for businesses, households and families in due course.