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Yes Minister

The Beagle Editor,

All that was required was an answer to a very straightforward query but after six months the saga would do justice to Kafka.

Last July ratepayers in the Eurobodalla, and presumably throughout the State, received a notification that the source of funding for Fire Services would change from insurers to ratepayers. In the case of our property, we were designated as ‘residential’ for the purposes of determining the rate adjustment.

Our property is a bush block larger than 10 hectares, thus Local Land Services determines that it is rateable under the Local Land Services Act. This despite the fact that it is used solely as a residence. So for the past 20 years we have been paying the LLS annual levy for which we have received nothing in return.

Logic would suggest that the property is either residential or a farm and that it should not be classified as both to enable two government agencies to levy both rates.

The local member, Andrew Constance was asked to look into this anomaly and whether it could be addressed. In due course he responded, attaching a letter from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier and Treasurer advising that the Fire Levy was on hold and that the LLS rates query had been passed to the Minister for Primary Industry and hoping this had been of assistance!

After some prodding, along the lines of ‘the query has not been answered’ a second and then a third note arrived from Andrew Constance attached to letters from The Honourable Niall Blair, Minister for Primary Industries, kindly pointing out that the two issues were covered by the Acts under which LLS and ESC operated and suggesting that any further queries be directed to the LLS local Manager. He went to great lengths to outline the relevant portions of the Acts that supported his view that there was no inconsistency in double taxing.

It has been pointed out to Mr Constance that the property should not be classified in two different ways to suit the revenue raising of the respective authorities, it is either a residence or a farm. He has been asked to explain the inconsistency and why the Government appears unwilling to address the matter.

The Government’s response is; local Member passes the query to Premier and Treasury, who pass it to Primary Industry, they then deny any inconsistency exists, point out the various Acts applicable, indicate that the matter is closed and suggest any further queries be addressed to a public servant at the ‘coal face’. Andrew Constance ventures, “I trust the information supplied by the Minister will be of assistance”.

Well, no it is not, and the original query still remains unanswered. It seems a simple question, yet the local Member appears not to want to take a position and the rest of Government is in denial and deflects the rate-paying voter to a local public servant who has no authority to comment. Name and address supplied


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