Levy let­ter out­rage

Manjimup-Bridgetown Times - - Front Page - TARI JEF­FERS

Con­fu­sion over let­ters de­mand­ing pay­ment of the con­tro­ver­sial biose­cu­rity levy has caused out­rage.

Landown­ers who ob­jected to the levy and de­cided not to pay the $40-$50 are now faced with a let­ter de­mand­ing pay­ment.

Con­fu­sion over Of­fice of State Revenue let­ters de­mand­ing pay­ment of the con­tro­ver­sial biose­cu­rity levy has caused out­rage among com­mu­nity mem­bers and lead­ers.

The levy has been an on­go­ing is­sue in the re­gion since it was in­tro­duced, with crit­i­cism from across the Lower South West, in­clud­ing Boyup Brook, whose coun­cil has been vo­cal of its dis­ap­proval.

The levy al­lows the col­lec­tion of a small rate on prop­er­ties in a pre­scribed area to fund de­clared pest con­trol ac­tiv­i­ties car­ried out by recog­nised biose­cu­rity groups.

Landown­ers who ob­jected to the levy and de­cided not to pay the $40-$50 are now faced with a let­ter de­mand­ing pay­ment.

If the levy is not paid by July 15, there is the threat of le­gal ac­tion and a me­mo­rial placed on prop­erty ti­tles.

“This heavy-handed ap­proach to re­gional landown­ers is un­ac­cept­able and does not re­flect the will of the peo­ple,” War­renBlack­wood MLA Terry Red­man said.

Black­wood Biose­cu­rity Inc. ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Sheila Howat said while the group was not re­spon­si­ble for the let­ters, there had been some teething prob­lems with res­i­dents re­ceiv­ing the let­ter about the levy.

“The first let­ter is sup­posed to come with an in­for­ma­tion sheet about the levy and we’ve been hear­ing that some peo­ple didn’t get them — or they didn’t pay at­ten­tion to it,” she said.

“So when they get a sec­ond let­ter — which doesn’t come with the in­for­ma­tion sheet — it is seem­ingly de­mand­ing money out of the blue and peo­ple are justly un­happy.”

A state­ment posted on the Boyup Brook web­site urged ratepay­ers to pay the levy to avoid po­ten­tial costly le­gal fees.

The ad­vice was posted in a pub­lic no­tice posted on their shire web­site.

“To sup­port the shire’s ef­forts, ratepay­ers are en­cour­aged to write to the Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture and the Black­wood Biose­cu­rity Inc.,” the state­ment said.

As part of the levy process, recog­nised biose­cu­rity groups are re­quired to un­der­take pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion.

“Over 80 per cent of sub­mis­sions in the Black­wood re­gion were not sup­port­ive of the levy, so it is dif­fi­cult to see how it has been al­lowed to be im­ple­mented,” Mr Red­man said.

“I have seen first-hand how farm­ers in the area pro-ac­tively im­ple­ment mea­sures to elim­i­nate weeds and feral an­i­mals from their prop­er­ties, and most town­based prop­er­ties are not af­fected by these pests.”

Ms Howat said one of the ben­e­fits of a lo­cal, recog­nised biose­cu­rity group was it could pro­vide a strate­gic and co­or­di­nated ap­proach to pest man­age­ment.

“This levy de­vises a way for on­go­ing, se­cure fund­ing that is matched dollar-for-dollar by the State Gov­ern­ment for strate­gic and im­me­di­ate work on ad­dress­ing pests,” she said.

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