THE VICTORIAN Farmers Federation will continue its fight to ease the rate burden for Wimmera farmers.
President and Murra Warra farmer David Jochinke said he met with Local Government Minister Marlene Kairouz on Thursday to discuss the pressing issue.
“I’ve been trying to get a meeting with her for some time now, so I’m appreciative that we could actually, finally, make it happen,” he said.
“I spoke to her about local government sustainability and budgeting processes, but it was the rate burden that took out most of the meeting.
“We talked about what Northern Grampians have done and what Horsham said they couldn’t do.”
Mr Jochinke said councils were able to re-submit their budgets at any time.
“They can re-submit it any time during the 12 months, however it is difficult to do once rate notices have gone out,” he said.
“I asked her what the consultation process would be to change the rates strategy, but she wasn’t able to give me definitive answer on that.
“We’re looking getting legal advice to see if councils can change their rating strategy and re-submit their budgets to make them more fair and equitable. Hopefully we’ll have that by next week to give to all the councils.”
He said his discussions with the minister also covered valuations.
“Land valuations were one of the biggest issues and I asked why significant changes weren’t publicised earlier,” he said.
“We had community meetings at Kalkee prior the the budgets being released and the community raised these concerns.”
VFF Wimmera Branch president and Wallup farmer Daniel Keam said the issue was discussed at the group’s last meeting on Monday night.
“It was held at Rupanyup community centre and we were lucky enough to have four Yarrriambiack Shire Council councillors attend,” he said.
“Mayor Graeme Massey spoke about the reasons behind council’s decision to change the rates in the budget. It was really good and people had a lot of questions which were answered well.
There was a great turnout at the @VicFarmers meeting in Rupanyup last night, particularly with several younger faces in attendance. Also worth noting that 4 Yarriambiack councillors in attendance showing we can all work together on the rates issue 👍 pic.twitter.com/HIcR1GSc1B— Ryan Milgate (@ryan_milgate) July 2, 2018
“Our membership has increased a lot out of this whole rates saga; we’ve gained about a dozen new members. People can obviously see that we are here to support them and they want to be a part of that.”
He said the VFF wanted to unite with councils to tackle the situation together.
“As a united front, we can push forward to get a better rate strategy so rural people don’t carry the burden,” he said.
“Council and the VFF are very much on the same page; Yarriambiack, Hindmarsh, Northern Grampians and Buloke shires know the system is broken and something has to change.”