The Victorian Farmers Federation has welcomed the Liberal Nationals announcement today that it will prioritise an independent inquiry into farm rates in Victoria if the Coalition wins government at the upcoming state election.
“The Coalition’s announcement of an inquiry into rates is the first sign any of the major parties or candidates have heard farmers’ repeated calls that ‘enough is enough’ on the issue of Victoria’s unfair and unsustainable rating system, and the VFF welcomes this,” said VFF President David Jochinke.
“The commitment to an independent inquiry on rates represents a significant breakthrough for the VFF’s 2018 state election campaign, but farmers will still be seeking further details and definite timelines in relation to any review.”
According to the Coalition’s announcement, the terms of reference will direct that the inquiry must deliver actionable recommendations that help to make rates fair for farmers across Victoria, with rates to be capped while the review is carried out.
It follows the VFF’s launch this morning of a state election scorecard indicating farmer satisfaction ratings for parties and candidates on rates, and other state election issues – as at 26 October.
“There are plenty of blank spaces and much room for improvement by all major parties on the VFF’s scorecard so far,” said Mr Jochinke.
“The VFF feels that responses from parties and candidates to calls that they Deliver for Agriculture have been underwhelming to date, and farmers are calling on them to lift their game on key election asks.
“The VFF wants to see a long term vision for agriculture, investment in fit-for-purpose roads, reliable energy and telecommunications infrastructure and action on rural crime and council rates.
“The VFF expects significant improvements all around when we update the scorecard in two weeks’ time to reflect any new policy developments, including the Coalition’s rates announcement.
“While the rates announcement is welcome, it is also important to remember that the growing rates burden is an issue the VFF has raised repeatedly.
“In the context of exorbitant rates increases this year – as high as 20% to 50% for some VFF members – and extremely trying drought conditions in parts of the state, it is disappointing more has not been done by the parties and candidates to address this crucial issue.
“The VFF calls on the other parties to match the Coalition’s commitment on rates at a bare minimum. The VFF maintains our rating system is completely broken and needs to be demolished, then rebuilt to ensure a fairer deal for farmers. Farmers continue to say ‘enough is enough’.”
Farmers will continue to demand the parties and candidates Deliver for Agriculture during a series of candidate forums, including in Ripon tonight, Mildura tomorrow, Shepparton (7/11) and Morwell (13/11).
David Jochinke, Victorian Farmers Federation President, 0427 834 524
Andrew MacDonald, Stakeholder Media & Communications Advisor, 0418 282 875