Stop the ridiculous (proposed) rate rise
Have you calculated how much extra rates you'll pay under the Special Rate Variation (SRV) currently proposed by Tamworth Regional Council? More importantly, where you're going to find that extra money?
In their "community consultation" TRC quote average rates as $1197.28 and an increase of $434.41 over two years. I'd like to see that. Our rates are currently $5100 and estimated to increase by $1400 to $6500.
Admittedly, we have a large block close to the CBD, but when our house was built in the early 1900's it would have been "out of town". And while our block may be big, we drive on the same roads, use the same services, and drink the same water as everyone else.
I have no problem with Manilla or Nundle or Woolbrook - or any outlying towns and villages - paying less rates; we live close to the CBD and see little value for our rates, so I hate to think what level of services those people receive. But there are also huge inequities in rates across the TRC area.
Because rates are calculated on unimproved land value (ULV), determined by the Valuer General, some residents are bearing a huge burden. Apparently, developers aren't wearing their fair share either - but more on that soon.
If you crunch the numbers on recent residential property sales in some of the newest developments in Tamworth, using the publicly available ULV and TRC rates calculator, you'll see some of these inequities.
Some houses selling well in excess of one million dollars seem to be paying a fraction of the rates of equivalent properties a few kilometres away - because of a low ULV. Admittedly, the system to calculate rates is beyond the scope of TRC but, in my opinion, addressing these inequities should form part of the submission to IPART - should TRC proceed. But really, who are the fooling? As if they won't apply.
Maybe capping residential rates at $5000 is a good start. Or better still, offer a rate subsidy for residential properties paying over $5000. Those who are willing/able to pay can, others can get some financial relief.
At the public consultation in Tamworth, TRC senior staff said that the proposed increases will raise $7M in the first year and $14M in the second and subsequent years. "Two thirds will be allocated to our roads and transport network" and one third on community facilities. Ironically, while many of these increased costs could be linked to the pressures created by massive residential development around Tamworth, it seems that big developers are getting off lightly.
Apparently, the cost of development in Tamworth is "lower compared to equivalent councils" because TRC wants to "encourage development". Granted it's a balancing act (and development is apparently good). But when senior managers say that council typically updates Development Contribution Plans (DCP) "every ten years and costs are outdated" it's not hard to work out who is getting off lightly.
So, before TRC ask ratepayers to put their hand in their pocket AGAIN, let's see where THEY can save some money and cut costs. Firstly, how about increasing the costs for developers? And scrap the Skywalk. That will save $3M for TRC and $14M for state government. Another suggestion, stop ripping up the roads in East Tamworth and leaving them in a worse state than before they started. I imagine that could save a few million dollars.
As part of their justification for the SRV, TRC compares themselves to similar councils including Bathurst I.e., saying our rates are "significantly below" others in the "group." That's little comfort when your rates are INCREASING by more than the current average rates.
Maybe TRC should follow the lead from Bathurst Council. They recently "ceased consultation" and dropped their proposed SRV after the community gave a clear message that they wouldn't support it.
Submissions and community feedback close this Tuesday 31st October. Unless you are prepared to pay more rates, please let TRC know you're not happy - or start working out what you're going to give up.
Michelle Mawhinney, Tamworth
'Getting it done'
I refer to Member for New England's recent taxpayer funded flyer titled "Getting It Done" which mentions a conference motion calling a moratorium on all large-scale clean energy projects. The flyer later morphs into a so-called 30 second survey about cost of living and affordable power, as if he cares and then a poll about "who you usually vote for". For the record, for decades I voted for his party, but struggle to see merit now in any of the bought and paid for corrupted major parties, they are our nation's fifth columnists.
I can recall speaking to Barnaby in June 2014 about the folly of State Government proposed electricity privatisation in front of his State colleague Kevin Anderson who unsurprisingly sat mute and a range of fellow councillors who largely identified as members of The Nationals and if not a member, completely partisan and compromised. Barnaby said "it (electricity privatisation) will be ok", why wouldn't it be, his government paid $1 billion "asset recycling" payments to bribe the States into privatising our electricity infrastructure no doubt on behalf of party donors, like one-time Nationals candidate for Dickson - Trevor St Baker, to which Baird, Stoner and their lackeys such as Kev Anderson obliged after the 2015 State election and flogged them all off. Of course, we had the poor example of the Telstra, Commonwealth bank and Qantas privatisations to remind us how pear-shaped important asset sales have gone. Despite a secure supply of coal, sun, wind, water and other resources such as the Unmentionable Uranium, we suffer record high electricity bills. A great own goal by Barnaby and Kevin, well done boys.
As for Cost of Living - this was also going pear shaped for Australians at the end of the former Coalition government. Inflation is evidently a condition engineered by the major parties and corporate multinationals to increase the gap between very poor and very rich. During the pandemic Australian billionaires increased their wealth by around $67 billion. Many businesses around Australia and locally were also enriched by the JobKeeper largesse, the former government paid out to mates without any efforts to claw back the overgenerous, overpaid scheme. The losers are middle class and working poor Australians who have to pay back the debt and suffer high mortgage rates, food, fuel and electricity. Of course Barnaby will blame Labor, Labor, Labor but they should all be held to account for the inaction on properly taxing corporate multinationals pillaging our nations natural and human resources.
However back to electricity bills. I've said it before and I say it again, if you are labouring under exorbitant electricity bills, go and complain to both Barnaby Joyce and Kevin Anderson because they collectively and stupidly privatised our energy assets creating high energy bills, created reliability concerns and an uncertain energy future. Some things should always be managed by governments, energy assets is one of them.
Mark Rodda, Tamworth
He's apparently forgotten that Labor is spending $23 billion on cost of living support. He's forgotten Labor has introduced cheaper medicines, cheaper child care, provided electricity bill relief, increased rent assistance, boosted income support and Medicare bulk billing.
Has he forgotten Labor is building more affordable homes, expanding paid parental leave and providing fee-free TAFE training? Has he forgotten that workers' wages are now growing at the fastest rate for ten years after years of stagnation under the previous Coalition government? And has he also forgotten how many of Labor's measures have been opposed by his Coalition mob?
Of course many Australians are still doing it tough and Labor will continue to focus on combating cost of living pressures, despite the relentless negativity of a Coalition still struggling to accept that the Australian people threw them out in 2022.
Meanwhile, Mr Joyce's memory lapses may be nothing more than a date of birth issue, however he would be well advised to keep an eye on them.
Laura Hughes, Hillvue
Stronger Communities Program
What could be fairer than a Federal Government grant program which offers $150,000 for every electorate each year for small community projects?
The Stronger Communities Program (SCP) was developed by the former Coalition Government and provided $175 million to more than 15,000 small projects across the nation.
The beauty of the program was local communities were able to decide their local priorities, and they leveraged their own fundraising money, with some direct support from the Federal Government.
The SCP was successful because it took pressure off local councils and community groups to do all of the heavy lifting for projects which made a real difference.
Bizarrely, the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Catherine King has failed to deliver money for future rounds of the program which was popular with Members of Parliament on both sides of the chamber.
The Minister's own Department says on its website: "All Rounds of the SCP have been very successful, with a wide variety of projects funded including upgrades to community halls and clubhouses, equipment for both aged care and day care facilities, men's sheds and associated equipment, scoreboards, computers, inflatable rescue boats and disaster recovery generators."
The program was so successful it's been abandoned by Minister King.
Sadly, in the middle of a cost of living crisis, the pressure is going to fall on volunteers to raise more money and local governments to fund thousands of additional projects because this Minister thinks Canberra knows best, and she doesn't trust local communities to make good decisions.
Darren Chester, Shadow Minister for Local Government and Regional Development