Proposed 36.3 per cent Special Rate Variation (SRV)
The Tamworth Regional Residents and Ratepayers Association (TRRRA) is a non-profit association whose charter is to represent to Tamworth Regional Council (TRC) and other government bodies on behalf of the TRC residents on matters that affect their interests by any person, organisation, or government body.
The below comments are made as a matter of public interest to assist Tamworth Regional Council in its decision making.
The residents and ratepayers of the Tamworth Local Government Area do not support the TRC's proposed 36.3 per cent Special Rate Variation. The community is angry about the rate rise, the lack of appropriate community consultation and communication from the TRC. This is evident by the number of signatures that have been received; to date we have received 530 signatures on an online petition and 993 on a paper petition.
Reasons for Objection
Based on the feedback received from the residents and ratepayers from Tamworth and surrounding area, the TRRRA has decided to oppose the TRC's proposed 36.3 per cent special rate variation on several grounds.
As noted in the report prepared by Morrison Low (commissioned by Tamworth Regional Council) the TRC region is in the lowest 23 per cent of socio-economic cohorts. We therefore question the damaging impact of the SRV on a large proportion of lower income residents.
Given the catastrophic impacts of COVID and the recent drought on rural communities, both economically and emotionally, and given the high cost of living affecting families and pensioners, we wonder if the TRC has really considered people's capacity to pay an increased amount on top of their current rates.
The information provided in the documents prepared by Morrison Low are complex and beyond the understanding of the average ratepayer.
The Morrison Low report has identified some additional unquantified savings the Council could make. The Morrison Low report has been substantially used to support Councils IPART application the special rate variation and not to look for savings.
We also question the priority of infrastructure projects identified by the TRC.
The whole community consultation process has been characterised by a lack of transparency involving a minimum of community consultation, the briefest of consultation periods. The community consultation sessions appear to be more for the TRC to disseminate information rather than a genuine consultative process.
If a rate increase is required, the process of rate increase needs to be revisited to include greater savings, reviewing workplace practices resulting in overtime, revisiting the costings on major projects, a more structured process in winning State and Federal grant funding, a more realistic schedule of rate increases if required and authentic consultation with the community on any proposed Council initiatives.
Robyn Lang, Secretary, on behalf of Tamworth Regional Residents and Ratepayers Association
Australia's future is in the hands of the regions
Credit to the Tamworth and Armidale councils who can see that renewable energy zones (REZs) have financial benefits for their communities ("Armidale ratepayers to reap million-dollar rewards from renewable energy levy", 31/10).
Some others, however, just don't like the look of solar panels or wind generators and put that ahead of emission reduction or community benefit sharing.
While new president of the National Farmers Federation, David Jochinke also has concerns about transmission lines and the potential loss of farmland, he acknowledged in his inaugural speech to the national conference that what's needed is "a clear strategy for [energy] projects to benefit the community ... to ensure farmers are treated fairly."
But some politicians use renewable energy to score political points. It's easy to be confrontational and organise a rally. Far harder to negotiate optimal community outcomes.
Much has been happening in New England for some time. For example, since 2014, the residents of Uralla have been working to become Australia's first zero net energy town, and Armidale mayor Sam Coupland led the founding of the Coalition of Renewable Energy Mayors.
As the publisher of the New England Times, RK Crosby, recently said, "the REZ is giving many landholders the opportunity to improve their operations and really diversify for the first time in generations." Australia is grateful to regional communities for making the transition work. Our future depends upon it.
Ray Peck, Hawthorn
Work together for clean energy future
I watch, with both empathy and concern, as communities argue about the impacts of local renewable energy projects. Most disheartening and disappointing, however, is members of the Coalition like Barnaby Joyce using community uncertainty over climate solutions as a weapon to progress their own political agenda ("Environment being used as a pawn in a sickening game", 30/10). The science is clear: climate change is the biggest threat to our precious environment bar none. And fossil fuels are responsible for over 75 per cent of the greenhouse gases causing climate change. Ending the burning of these dinosaur fuels as fast as possible is the solution. Local environment protection and community consultation are vital, as are jobs for impacted workers, but the end game is having renewable energy like wind and solar flooding coal, oil and gas out of the system. Time is running out. We must work together to build the clean energy that will protect our environment for all the years to come.
Amy Hiller, Kew
Thank you to Sophia Walter for her insightful comments about the offshore wind-turbine dispute. Opposition Leader Peter Dutton in a sudden and unexpected show of concern for our natural environment, asks why wind-turbine proponents would "seek to destroy the natural environment to try and save the planet." Yet this very environment is being threatened by global warming. Rising ocean temperatures pose a real risk to our marine life. The food sources of the Blue Whale are already depleted due to ocean warming. Coastal habitats and fisheries are also under threat. Of course, all energy projects including coal, gas or renewables, should be done with proper community consultation. But I have yet to see Dutton and his cohorts oppose fossil fuel developments with the same zealotry.
Anne O'Hara, Wanniassa, ACT
Leading the way
Tasmania is now 100 per cent self sufficient in renewable electricity as is also the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), including, of course, Canberra. South Australia has transformed its energy system now to be over 70 per cent self sufficient on renewable energy.
If all, or perhaps more, Austrian States could follow the examples set by the ACT, Tasmania and South Australia the opportunity could then exist for Australia to set an example to the rest of the World related to following the right path to end reliance on burning fossil fuels to produce energy, that is the prime cause of human induced climate change.
Brian Measday, Kingswood SA