Rates are too high in the ACT. But at last the government is calling this tax what it is: Land Value Tax.
Governments of all persuasions have turned thief. They extort rates to pay not only for municipal services but anything else that takes their fancy and I use that word deliberately. The word as defined by the Oxford dictionary ”to get money from persons with force, threats or importunity”. The ACT Government’s threat is a hefty fine if you don’t pay up.
Over the past three years all ratepayers have seen huge increases in the region of thirty percent with no relief in sight. Chief Minister Andrew Barr lamented that he could only increase rates 7% this year because it is an election year. This begs the question, how much would he have increased them if it wasn’t? One can only speculate that it would have been his usual 10%.
Canberra’s ludicrously high rates are much higher than Sydney. Rates paid in Campbell on a small block are higher than rates on Sydney Harbour.
Rates have gone from 18% of revenue to 27% of revenue in the past five years. This is approaching a third of all revenue raised in Canberra and is the highest source of revenue collected from Canberrans. And not everyone pays rates. This means the crippling burden falls on the same select group of people year after year.
Governments are addicted to rates and their greed knows no bounds. Unlimited rate increases cause hardship and lack of certainty particularly to the elderly on fixed incomes. These extortionate rates are forcing some Canberrans out of their homes or going without heating in winter.
This rot must stop. Rates must be frozen for the next 2 years. After that they must be capped in line with CPI as they are in NSW. The capping of rates must be enshrined in law so as to prevent governments reverting to their greedy old ways. Governments must be accountable. This free for all must stop and ratepayers given a break from legalised theft.
Ratepayers are sitting ducks. Not only do we pay more than our fair share of running the Territory, we are easy targets for new taxes or levies that are attached to our rates bills. We now have 2, the emergency services levy and the newest levy the levy for domestic violence. These are both important things but why just ratepayers paying, why not everyone in Canberra? It would be much fairer and easier to put these levies onto electricity bills.
Older ratepayers in inner Canberra have lost the most ground in recent years. They have suffered three major hits. First the value in their properties has risen, second the rate in the dollar has been increased and third people on the Old Age Pension’s rebate had been cut from 50% of the bill to a maximum of $780. If you take an average property in Campbell the rates are $4000, under the old scheme a pensioner would have been rebated $2000 now it’s $780.
When it comes to extortionate rate increases there is no difference between Liberal, Labor and Green governments, except to say that Labor is greedier and has got much better at it than Liberal. Furthermore, Andrew Barr boasts about how he has increased our rates.
Written and authorised by Lucinda Spier, Canberra Community Voters Party.