High Court push: Wimmera farmer wants rating system challenged

McKENZIE Creek farmer Neville McIntyre is campaigning to have the Capital Improved Value rating system challenged in the High Court.

Mr McIntyre will put up a resolution at the Victorian Farmers Federation annual conference in Melbourne this morning.

It will request the state body asks the National Farmers Federation to apply to the Australian Farmers Fighting Fund to challenge the system in the High Court.

"The current CIV-based rating system is unfair and unsustainable for farmers," Mr McIntyre said.

"Australia is one of the few countries in the world that uses this system.

"The United States and England use a goods and chattel rating system, which is virtually a tax per head of population rate rather than an assets test.

"Assets mean nothing. You could have a million dollars and then in drought time it goes backwards."

Mr McIntyre said Horsham Rural City Council should be used as a case study.

He said he had been fighting the municipality's rating system for the past 12 years.

"We're not getting anywhere," he said.

Council's draft rating strategy, released on May 19, proposes raising the farm rating differential to 20 per cent for the next financial year, meaning farmers would only pay 80 per cent of the municipal rate.

Mr McIntyre said this was inadequate, arguing council should employ a minimum 40 per cent differential to compensate for a 22.4 per cent increase in land value.

"It's just unsustainable. Councils risk rating farmers off the land." - Peter Tuohey

Mr McIntyre will present his resolution today on behalf of the Wimmera branch of the VFF.

"We have a lot of support from other branches of the VFF," he said.

"The rating system is basically the same in councils across Victoria.

"We want the system changed."

The federation launched an online petition last month to reduce what it believes is an inequitable rating system.

President Peter Tuohey said farmers shouldered about 46 per cent of the rates assessed on businesses in regional Victoria, but only made up about 12 per cent of the regional economy.

"That's why we're calling for a parliamentary inquiry into the fairness and equity of the local government rating system in rural and regional areas. We have to find a fairer way to apply rates to farmers," he said.

"Last year we saw council rate rises of up to 15 per cent for farmers, which came on top of repeated, unsustainable rate rises.

"It's just unsustainable. Councils risk rating farmers off the land."

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