LETTER: System is broken, but councils are at fault

I commend Jason Shields on his article “Time to play Robin Hood on rates” (Sunraysia Daily, August 10).

Much of it echoes calls from like-minded people in the community, many of whom have been ridiculed for their comments, accused of having no idea of how councils work, trying to compare apples with oranges and don’t know what they are talking about.

While all would agree that the system itself is at fault, councils have been the ones to set rates and charges and not the state government. 

Mr Shields’ comparison with rates in Box Hill to those in Mildura is very relevant and this is only within the Victoria. Comparisons across Australia show rates in regional Victoria to be among the highest in the nation with many of the lower socioeconomic regions hardest hit.

Though reference to population density and area to govern are more like we “spin” as population density should drive up rates rather than reduce them given the faster rate of asset consumption and the provision of far more services in the metro area.

With reference to Council autonomy, Mornington Peninsula Shire saved millions on insurances and other costs, Alpine Shire froze wages to save jobs and Nillumbik Shire Council found savings enough to not have any rate increase last year and less than the rate cap again this year. These are council initiatives, not the State Government.

Yes, the Victorian Government can and should fix this anomaly and bring about a fair and equitable society where rate revenue is distributed evenly. This would end the self-focussed, inward thinking attitudes within some councils where increases in rates and charges are crippling communities. 

Phil Douglass,

Ratepayers Victoria-Mildura branch

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