Bundaberg rates war rages on

Bundaberg rates war rages on

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AgForce's Tom Marland and his son Jack and Bundaberg region farmers campaigning against 45pc average rates rises. Picture: Solana Photography

AgForce's Tom Marland and his son Jack and Bundaberg region farmers campaigning against 45pc average rates rises. Picture: Solana Photography

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The bitter war of words continues to rage between angry ratepayers and the Bundaberg Regional Council.

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FARMERS say they will "put down their pitchforks" when their rates are capped in line with consumer price increases, as a bitter war of words continues to rage between angry ratepayers and the Bundaberg Regional Council.

The confrontation in the agriculturally dependent shire follows BRC's decision to increase rates for farm land by an average of 45 per cent, in line with 46pc average increases in land valuations.

AgForce spokesman Tom Marland said the increases were devastating for farm families, many of whom had been on the same land for generations.

"It is a huge amount of money that can't now be spent in local businesses and services," Mr Marland said.

"The knock-on effect of this is enormous for the general community."

Mayor Jack Dempsey has not held back, telling farmers they had been working with the wrong figures.

Council had only increased its revenue from class nine agricultural land by $2.4 million, not the $5m, 100pc rate increase claimed by the farmer consortium, he said.

"I'm now calling on them to put down their pitchforks and end the campaign," Cr Dempsey told the Bundaberg Times.

"There are bigger fish to fry during the state election, particularly with Paradise Dam being such a critical issue for our region's future and we should be working together on this."

Mr Marland said it was acknowledged the claims that rates had doubled resulting in a $10m rates takes were a mistake.

"While $2.4mis better than $5m - it is still $2.4m, per year, plus CPI that will be pulled from rural areas of the region at a time they can least afford it," Mr Marland said.

While $2.4 million is better than $5 million - it is still $2.4 million... that will be pulled from rural areas. - Tom Marland, AgForce

"That's not money any of the farmers can replace because it doesn't make us any more productive or generate any more income.

"But it is a huge amount of money that can't now be spent in local businesses and services. The knock-on effect of this is enormous for the general community."

Gaeta producers Michael and Gina St Henry run 850 cattle on 2100 hectares and have seen their rates increased by 80pc.

"A $20,000 rates bill is bigger than our insurances, bigger than our fuel, bigger than any other cost," Mr St Henry said.

In a statement issued to Queensland Country Life, BRC said rates had only been raised where valuations had increased.

"Rates are tax deductible for most agricultural enterprises who have also benefited from the federal government's instant asset write-off extension to buy new vehicles, machinery and equipment," the statement read.

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