Local government amendment (RATES) BILL 2017 (No. 7)
Ms Armitage (Launceston) - Mr President, most of this matter has been covered and particularly well by the member for Mersey. I am not fond of retrospectivity, but I understand that the councils acted in good faith and have certainly not been underhand in trying to take rates from an area where they thought they should not.
Can the Government state with conviction that those people have already instituted court proceedings will not be affected in any way as a result of this legislation? That they will be able to proceed with their case as if this new legislation has not been introduced? That is a rather important matter we need to have on the record.
I too have contacted councils in my electorate. I have two councils, with Meander Valley and Launceston, and Meander Valley has advised me they were consulted. The changes will have a negligible effect on the Meander Valley, certainly no negative effects. Launceston Council is much the same; they said, yes, they were consulted and do not expect the changes to impact the city. However, we have to consider 27 other councils, and the people of Tasmania.
I accept there are certain issues for those people paying rates, if they do not consider they should be. However, as mentioned by the member for Windermere, there are a lot of costs associated with councils, whether it be roads, rates and rubbish or certainly other amenities provided. In the case of Launceston and Hobart, we have museums and swimming pools. The member for Hobart was saying it was $2 million. I think the cost would be much greater if we do not pass the bill - as difficult as retrospectivity is - because we will then have a host of people saying they should not have been paying rates for the last however many years and claiming money back.
Mr Dean - I thought the $2 million mentioned by the member for Hobart would be the total amount back paid if everybody came out.
Mr Valentine - No, it is per annum for those areas, across the city.
Ms Armitage - If it is $2 million per annum, as the member for Windermere mentioned previously, if they were to forego that money each year. But, if you look further, they will then have to pay back money from the past, then obviously rates are going to climb even higher. It is going to put them even further behind. That is just one council and while it has not impacted on councils -
Mr Valentine - It is 15 per cent.
Ms Armitage - That is right. The councils in my electorate are not impacted while obviously other councils are, and we look at the greater good of the whole state. Obviously you look at your own electorate, and then you look at the greater good.
Mrs Hiscutt - That would be retrospective then, would it not?
Ms Armitage - As I said, I do not like retrospectivity but I understand that in this case councils have not done it wishing to be illegal. They have actually thought what they were doing was appropriate. That is the difference. They believed what they were doing all the way along. As long as this does not impact on the live case - I think that it is important someone has taken that through.
Mr Valentine - It is 14 years ago, or 13 years, so it could be $26 million.
Ms Armitage - It would have a major impact on services and on the community as a whole. I will support the bill.