Horsham mining rates: Council wants law change

HORSHAM Rural City Council wants the State Government to repeal legislation that prohibits councils from collecting rates from land used for mining.

Council will call on the Municipal Association of Victoria’s State Council meeting on May 16 to lobby on its behalf.

Cr Tony Phelan said he had difficulty understanding why Victorian land used exclusively for mining was not rated.

“I think it’s appropriate that we try to either amend the regulation or get some justification why it exists – I don’t see why it exists and it certainly has impacted on us for quite a time,” he said.

Council’s submission states mining activity can have a significant impact on community infrastructure – particularly roads – and other services such as waste disposal.

It says demographic and population changes linked to mining also affects general community services.

Since 2005, council has had seven assessments of land used exclusively for mining, which have been exempt from rates. It estimates the value of rates foregone at $100,000.

Cr Heather Phillips said mines produced significant profits.

“They are generally in a majority of foreign ownership, so the profits leave the region,” she said.

“There’s a basic level of unfairness. Farmers work the land and they pay rates.

“Miners take the land and they don’t pay rates.

“It seems to be unjust and unfair that local government doesn’t have the power to rate heavy industry like mining appropriately.”

Cr Phillips said the ability to rate land used for mining would help with constant cost shifting from the state and federal governments.

“To keep council rates under control, we have to find other ways of bringing money in,” she said.

Cr Pam Clarke said the region’s roads clearly suffered from mining activity.

“We go along the highway to Hamilton regularly and the roads are just atrocious,” she said.

“Most of the damage is done by big mining trucks that rumble through every five minutes or so.”

Cr Mark Radford said mining companies were not to blame for council’s predicament.

“Mining companies work within the framework of the government of the day,’’ he said.

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