Letters to the editor | July 11, 2017

Residential sector is quiet

SO FAR we have not heard much from the residential sector regarding this year’s Horsham Rural City Council rates.

I have spoken to lots of residential sector ratepayers, including pensioners, and they all tell me that under a 2.25 per cent rate cap, they expect to pay the same rates as last year – plus a little bit more.

If they were given a rate reduction, they expect it to come from reductions in council spending – not at the expense of farmers.

Council have clearly got this rate strategy wrong and are out of touch with their ratepayers. Ratepayers do not want to force farmers to pay for the rate deficit council intends to give to the residential sector.

Council would have ratepayers believe no new houses were built last year. Owners of the 100 new houses should be asking council to confirm what happened to the rates they will pay for the first time this year.

The $250,000 to $300,000 the council will collect from them does not appear on the budget sheet.

Council should be made to confirm that your rates along with the add-ons made up the $471,000 in rates from the $96 million worth of new valuations.

The $471,000 was added to the residential sector rates as a positive and disappeared to hide the $540,000 rates reduction this council intends to give the residential sector. This then reduces the deficit to look better on the budget paper at -$68,000.

Farmers could see some sense in a $646,000 rate increase if it was for roads or bridges – but we cannot accept our money being wasted for a $540,000 rate reduction of another sector.

The 60 per cent rate rise the Kalkee farmer will receive will not make his crops yield any better and the Dadswells Bridge farmer with a 37 per cent rate hike will not cut anymore wool from his sheep, either. The higher rates from increased land prices are a liability not an asset as council suggest.

Council had two main choices this year – either increase the differential or apply a flat 2.25 per cent rate cap on each sector, like the Northern Grampians Council has done.

I put this 2.25 per cent rate cap as a major part of my submission and I spoke to this on submission night on June 6 within the community consultation timeframe.

Farmers, we must not let council transfer half a million dollars in rates onto the farm sector. This is not a one off. Once it is transferred we pay this rate hike each and every year after it. 

Everyone should come to the next council meeting on July 16 to show this council you are not happy with the rate strategy decision and you are not giving up or going away.

I ask ratepayers of the residential sector to come along as well to show council that you do not want a rate reduction if it means farmers have to pay for it.

Neville McIntyre, McKenzie Creek 

Flows practice is flawed

IT’S a year where we have had a quarter of our annual rainfall and in many areas not enough to germinate clover.

Crops and pastures are barely alive and runoff for water catchment is a distant thought. 

Yet the Wimmera Catchment Management Authority, GWMWater and the state government seem to think it’s in everyone’s interest to drain our lakes so the bottom stretches of the Wimmera River can be full.

So far they have all but drained Lake Lonsdale, so I can only assume Lake Fyans is next to keep these unrealistic and ill-thought-out strategies in place.

The above stated groups are putting water down the river for an environmental flow, for the river’s benefit. This is incorrect – it is for political benefit. You can walk from Huddleston’s weir to the Glenorchy weir in the bottom of the river right now and not get your boots muddy.

This is the middle section of the river and yet has been dry for an extended length of time. Any arguments about being for the environmental benefits are flawed until all the river can receive flows and not just the section where most of the people live. It’s time to stop this waste of water in a year it still can the driest ever in the past 50 years.

The pipeline was put in to save water so people will be guaranteed the most basic commodity. Yet some ill-thought-out concept that has not changed as conditions change remains in place.

So I ask all those that matter to immediately change for the public’s long-term benefit.  If the year continues as at present and for an extended period of time the present plan may cause many to run out of water, yet others will still look over a full river. 

As a local farmer whose stock have access to the environmental flows at Mt Dryden, Huddleston’s weir, Lubeck and my father overlooks the river in Horsham, I have the most to gain from these flows yet cannot stand by and ignore this waste of water.

Graeme Maher, director, Marlu Partners and member, Victorian Farmers Federation Livestock council 

Indulge in fruit for winter

IT IS well and truly that time of year again; where our car windscreens have a layer of ice in the mornings and our noses are running like a tap, so it seems only fitting that I remind the people of the Wimmera, Mallee and Mildura regions about the flu-fighting abilities of our home grown fresh fruit.

For just a few dollars or from your backyard for free (if you’re lucky!), grab a piece of citrus rich fruit a day and let it work its magic.

From oranges to lemons it is mostly our bright coloured fruits that contain essential nutrients for our health, including vitamin C which has the ability to build our immune system to fight cold and flu.

So where you can, shop local and support local growers by buying some fresh Mallee made fruit this winter and save yourself from getting sick this flu season.

Andrew Broad, Member for Mallee

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