Central Queensland community hope for rate relief
IT'S the dreaded domino effect.
Flooding rain, the crippling drought choking agricultural and pastoral operations, along with thousands of jobs slashed from the resources sector have combined to fracture local economies and small businesses, Central Highlands Mayor Peter Maguire said.
The Barcaldine, Isaac and Central Highlands councils will not follow 11 smaller Queensland drought-declared councils and offer 50% off six-monthly rates to affected property owners, but could explore other relief options.
"It's not all peaches and cream, as I said to the premier, and on top of that you have a drought impacting on small businesses all over the place... there are problems in all our communities," Cr Maguire said.
"People have to remember 8000 people were put off from the resources sector.
"THAT is having an impact on our small towns and communities. Talk to the business owners and there are dozens of them struggling all through the towns - it's bloody tough out there.
"We have discussed other ways, like deferring payments of rates, and we have done it in the past... but if we do that for the ag sector, what about everyone else impacted?
"Where do you stop? I could go to a council meeting and justify that for every single person."
This week Richmond Mayor John Wharton indicated his council would pass a motion for a 50% half-yearly rates reduction. Mayors from Cloncurry, Croydon, Burke, Bedourie, Boulia, Winton, McKinlay, Georgetown, Hughenden and Carpentaria flagged they would follow.
Barcaldine Mayor Rob Chandler agreed with Cr Maguire, saying singling out one sector for relief, and ignoring the broader scope of the problem, would be counter-productive.
"We had a couple of graziers in our regional area approach us asking for combinations of relief, but we have local businesses asking the same thing because they're in a bad way, and residents asking us to lower rates and waive excess water rates," Cr Chandler said.
"We have discussed it and said no."
Isaac Mayor Anne Baker said assistance was available to ratepayers, like the Drought Relief Assistance Scheme.