January 24, 2013
The Victorian Farmers Federation has welcomed the Victorian Government’s release of the differential rates guidelines. The guidelines, released for consultation yesterday, have been introduced to help local councils set municipal rates. The VFF believes current municipal rates and differentials set by many local governments place an unfair financial burden on the farming community. “The rating system is based on the value of land and its improvements. This means farmers are paying 46 per cent of regional Victoria’s rates assessed on business despite only making up 12 per cent of the regional economy,” VFF president Peter Tuohey said. The VFF believe that there should be a mandatory lower differential for farmers to recognise the capacity to pay and create equity in the local government funding system. “All councils should offer farmers lower differentials on their rates, in recognition that land values don’t reflect your income earning capacity,” Mr Tuohey said. “Victorian farmers pay an average of $8,500 in municipal rates which is much higher than the $1,000 of residential rate payers in regional areas. That’s why we need a lower differential.” Differential guidelines are only a small portion of the issues affecting local rates, and the VFF has a petition running calling on the government to conduct a comprehensive inquiry into local government funding. The petition can be found at www.vff.org.au along with a fact sheet explaining how the rating system is affecting farmers across the region. The VFF will be providing a detailed submission to the draft and we encourage all famers to attend a regional meeting and have their voice heard.