THE Labor Party has vowed it will launch an inquiry into the council rating system.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, speaking at a dual announcement on Tuesday, said the inquiry would aim to identify changes to improve rates equity, in order to ensure that the burden of rates was fair among all ratepayers.
It comes after an election commitment from the Coalition to investigate rates.
The Victorian Farmers Federation called on both parties to commit to investigating rates as part of its election advocacy priority list.
“As part of our Fair Go Rate Capping policy we had already indicated that there would have to be a review,” Mr Andrews said.
“It will look with some focus on a number of different issues but one of them will be farm rates and how they are struck each year, and how that can be very difficult for farming communities who may have an asset but can be very income poor in a given year if prices or total volume of production is low.”
Mr Andrews said the Labor party would need advice from various departments before determining a timeline for such a review.
“We wouldn't be wasting any time on it … we would look to do it in a timely manner,” he said.
“You would look to do it at the beginning of one rating year and have it finished before the end of that, so that you could strike perhaps some new rates and a new formula – a much better better formula the following year.”
Mr Andrews did not rule out any new or altered taxes but said all policies would be made known to the public before election day on November 24.
“We will have our plan out there for all Victorians to see, with Treasury and finance costings (and) all the detail behind it before November 24,” he said.
He said the Labor party would also take the issue to Canberra to ensure Financial Assistance Grants to rural councils were never frozen again.
Mr Andrews said the three-year freeze on the indexation of these grants by the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government had placed “enormous” pressure on councils’ finances.