VFF want rate mora­to­rium

Alpine Observer - - News -

THE Vic­to­rian Farm­ers Fed­er­a­tion is de­mand­ing a mora­to­rium on fu­ture rates in­creases un­til the State Govern­ment, elec­tion can­di­dates and coun­cils com­mit to de­mol­ish­ing and re­build­ing Vic­to­ria’s bro­ken rat­ing sys­tem to en­sure a bet­ter deal for farm­ers.

The move comes as the VFF yes­ter­day hosted ru­ral and re­gional MPs in Mel­bourne to mark the fi­nal sit­ting week of the cur­rent term of Par­lia­ment, and calls for de­fin­i­tive ac­tion on the rates is­sue.

VFF pres­i­dent David Jochinke said with the VFF con­tin­u­ing to re­ceive re­ports of an­nual rate in­creases ex­ceed­ing 40 per cent for some farm­ers, it was time to draw a line in the sand be­fore farms were rated out of ex­is­tence.

“Enough is enough... ac­tion on the un­equitable ru­ral rates sit­u­a­tion is a key ask of the VFF’s De­liv­er­ing for Agri­cul­ture 2018 state elec­tion cam­paign,” he said.

“So far the re­sponse from the par­ties and can­di­dates has been un­sat­is­fac­tory.

“Agri­cul­ture in Vic­to­ria is re­spon­si­ble for more than $ 13 bil­lion of food and fi­bre pro­duc­tion each year, and em­ploys more than 87,000 peo­ple, largely in ru­ral and re­gional ar­eas.

“It is dif­fi­cult to think of any small or large busi­ness that could re­main vi­able in the face of 20 to 40 per cent hikes to such a sig­nif­i­cant fixed cost each year.

“Com­pound­ing this, the chal­lenges of drought and dif­fi­cult sea­sonal con­di­tions fac­ing many farm­ers are mak­ing the sig­nif­i­cant in­creases even harder to ab­sorb.

“Our rates sys­tem is com­pletely bro­ken.

“It needs to be de­mol­ished and re­built from the ground up.”

Around half of Vic­to­ria’s ru­ral and re­gional coun­cils have in­di­cated they will charge farm­ers more than the 2.25 per cent rate cap this year.

Mr Jochinke said if farm­ers with­held their rate pay­ments from these coun­cils, that would re­sult in around $ 133 mil­lion not con­trib­uted to coun­cil cof­fers and kept in farm­ers’ pock­ets.

To high­light this point, the VFF is en­cour­ag­ing farm­ers with con­cerns about their rates bills to con­test their val­u­a­tion.

Those farm­ers with the op­tion of do­ing so are also en­cour­aged by the VFF to with­hold their rates pay­ments un­til the fi­nal lump sum pay­ment is due to coun­cil, rather than pay­ing in in­stal­ments.

“It’s time for par­ties and can­di­dates to start de­liv­er­ing for agri­cul­ture and ad­dress the rates is­sue be­fore the state elec­tion on Novem­ber 24,” Mr Jochinke said.

For more on the VFF 2018 state elec­tion cam­paign visit: www. de­liv­er­ing­for­a­gri­cul­ture. org.

UP­COM­ING: The North East Wine Chal­lenge will take place for the sev­enth time at a date soon to be con­firmed.

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