Rate rise needed to protect rural properties: Reg Kidd

OWNERS of small rural blocks should pay extra rates towards the eradication of weeds and pest control to help protect owners of larger properties, according to Central Tablelands Local Land Services (LLS) board member Reg Kidd.

Eleven LLS areas across the state took over the roles of the former Livestock Health and Pest Authorities (LHPA), Catchment Management Authorities (CMA), and the Department of Primary Industries’ advisory services in January.

Currently, owners of properties 10 hectares or larger pay rates to access the LLS services and extra animal health rates if they own at least 50 units of stock.

But the LLS board of chairs has asked for landowners of properties below two hectares to also pay the extra rates as part of an IPART review of the rating system.

Mr Kidd said two hectares should be the threshold for LLS rates to kick in, as he believes biosecurity is everyone’s responsibility.

“If you look at, say, weeds and diseases you could have someone with one fruit tree not looking after it and it gets Queensland fruit fly and spreads it all over the region,” he said.

“You could be chucking weeds over the back fence ... a lot of weeds are garden escapees.”

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Mr Kidd said if there was an outbreak of a disease carried by dogs or cats, most of the animals would be in urban areas justifying the extra rates.

But he admits the idea could be unpopular.

“What we’ve got to do is change the culture of people,” he said.

“Even if you’re on a small acreage, if you’re doing the wrong thing when it comes to weeds, or animals, or fruit trees you can be just as responsible for spreading weeds as someone in a large area.”

Cabonne Council, Blayney Shire Council and Bathurst Regional Council all wrote to IPART opposing the lowering of the rating threshold below two hectares.

Orange City Council did not write a submission.

The LLS board of chairs also asked for councils to be responsible for collecting rates for properties below two hectares and for the money to be spent on ratepayer education, an idea the councils opposed in their submissions.

LLS chair Ian Armstrong said potential changes to the rating system would ultimately be beyond the control of the Central Tablelands LLS, but he believed the current system worked well.

clare.colley@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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