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Minister must support farmers in Ararat rates saga

Member for Western Victoria Simon Ramsay has urged the Minister for Local Government to advise the Ararat Council to drop plans to drastically change it’s rating structure.

The Council had voted to remove the farmers’ 55 per cent rate differential, forcing their rates to almost double.

Mr Ramsay said the Minister now has the findings of the Commission of Inquiry’s report into the Council’s rating strategy.

“The Acting Minister, Lily D’Ambrosio, has that report in her hands and potentially the future of the shire’s 450 farmers.

“I can only hope the Commissioners have listened intently to what the community has told them about the potential devastation it will cause to the farming community if the planned changes proceed.”

Farms represent just 24 per cent of rateable properties in the shire, but already pay 38 per cent of the rates.  Under this proposal, they will pay 55 per cent of the rate income.

Mr Ramsay said it would be almost impossible for the Commissioners to come up with any other viable option other than the status quo, or something very similar to it.

“How the Minister Natalie Hutchins, and Acting Minister Lily D’Ambrosio, deal with this report will be critical to the shire’s future and equally that of farmers.

“The Government must provide strong recommendation to the Council that it back away from it’s grossly unfair proposal.

“The Council must then adopt those recommendations,” Mr Ramsay said.