Rates solution proposed
AFTER studying the Horsham Rural City Council’s rates strategy, I note that the general sector of the community (residential, commercial and industrial) included 10,128 or 82 per cent of total property assessments and farming only 2159 or 17.5 per cent.
Council is entitled to charge municipal charge of up to 20 per cent of total rates charged, which would be $422.
But the council has elected to only charge 13.6 per cent – which is $287.
If the additional charge was applied to all ratepayers, this would mean the general sector would only pay additional $135 each but this would generate additional $1.367 million revenue and at least in some way reduce some of the additional burden on the farming sector. Obviously this is not the total solution but we need to start somewhere.
Lachlan Hall, Horsham
Cultures enrich lives
I THANK all the people from different cultures who have made our communities their home. This has led to a more diverse and enlightened experience for our district.
Our hospitals and aged care facilities are enriched by the talent and compassion given unselfishly by these people.
I have witnessed the racial discrimination targeted at these people and yet they continue to turn up to fulfill their duties without question day after day, when others with less resilience would balk at the oppression.
I do believe there is a underlying sense of racism in Australia, but I also believe that it is generational and that it will, in time, be, by necessity, eradicated.
As a nurse, I have embraced all the cultures and experiences that I have been in contact with. The history I have been opened to from doctors, nurses and the elderly that I have had the pleasure to have looked after has been no less than life changing.
In short, my life has been blessed by these people for better or worse, but my life continues to be enriched by the diverse people that challenged the way I view the world.
The more I experience, the more I question – and it is only through questioning yourself do you really find the answer.
William McIlwain, Minyip
Concerns over mining
IS YOUR landholding in the Stavely Arc, which runs from Wyperfeld to Terang?
If so, it could be subject to tender under a new mineral exploration ‘Ground Release’.
You need to know that there is nothing you can do to prevent mining explorers coming onto your land, or, some time in the future, digging an open-cut mine in your horse paddock.
Representatives of the state Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources Department have been holding meetings in various towns to provide information on this subject recently. They will offer a cajoling “helping hand, new tools in consultation, new dispute resolution approaches, free workshops, simple voluntary land access and compensation agreements” – all to achieve “better outcomes”.
The minister involved, Tim Pallas, has even spoken to students at Ararat high school. That may sound tongue in cheek. Frankly, though, you need these people. However, much of what they say sounds more like propaganda than fact.
I give some examples.
They say: “Minerals explorers can only access private property with the consent of a landholder or compensation agreement.”
But this is outright wrong. If you do not consent, the mining marshal will take you to VCAT to allot compensation and the miners can then enter your land. That is not an agreement.
They say: “We’re attracting minerals explorers with strong social values to invest in western Victoria.” Is this an oxymoron?
When they say: “Sophisticated transport and energy infrastructure … and export pathways” it obviously doesn’t refer to the roads on which I drive.
My message is that we should act together on this issue. This is the only way you will achieve the best for yourself, your environment and region and for your industry.
You could be optimistic that this government expenditure may increase employment, that development of buried resources is good at any cost, or even that you may have a chance of a new bore.
Alternatively, you may wonder, in this land of free enterprise, why 11 leaseholders can be granted up to $500,000 in co-payments to drill under your land.
Agriculture provides 24 per cent of Victoria’s exports but I gather Victoria's miners in recent years have contributed less in royalties than they receive in grants and concessions. It does seem strange that a government would subsidise a non-contributing industry that potentially threatens one of their most important ones.
You could be pessimistic that any offered jobs will be for FIFO workers. You may be annoyed that our roads will receive more traffic. You could be annoyed these companies pay a lower tax rate than you do, especially after recent taxation changes.
Or that they are, on average in Australia, 83 per cent foreign owned, put labour prices up, and that we have a system in this country that supported them but wasted a wonderful opportunity in the recent minerals boom.
Whatever your belief, or what these apologists for the mining industry tell you, if you want some compensation for allowing these miners into this area, you should do two things. Firstly, lobby your local council and politicians to provide more road funding to cater for the increased traffic of what is basically a new industry in the area. Secondly, talk to this group, and organise yourselves to act together in claiming compensation. Make sure the template for negotiation is set by landholders, not Tim Pallas.
My own land is not subject to this release of exploration licence, although various wetlands that I am interested in are.
Doug Craig, Dunkeld