Election 2013 Western Australia March 9

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Labor News

WA Labor's plan to keep council rates down

Labor Statement

A McGowan Government will introduce a maximum limit by which councils can increase rates each year to prevent steep and unnecessary rate increases, WA Labor Leader Mark McGowan said today.

Mr McGowan said WA Labor wanted to stop the problem of councils hitting ratepayers with big increases.

Between 2011-12 and 2012-13, ratepayers' bills increased by:

  • City of Greater Geraldton - 27 per cent
  • Shire of Nannup - 10.65 per cent
  • City of Rockingham - 9.9 per cent
  • Town of Victoria Park - 8 per cent
  • Shire of Peppermint Grove - 7.5 per cent

"WA Labor is concerned about the lack of transparency in some local governments which have imposed steep rate increases on ratepayers," Mr McGowan said.

"Many people are unhappy with the large rate increases that have taken place in a number of local government authorities.

"The average increase to ratepayers' bills across Western Australia in 2012-13 was 5.81 per cent.

"The average increase was 5.44 per cent in the metropolitan area and 5.99 per cent in regional areas.

"When we regularly have councils increasing rates by 10 per cent per annum, it becomes a big burden on families around the State - both in the country and the city.

"There needs to be some stringency around rate increase and it's reasonable to suggest that you can live within the 4.5 per cent increase per annum."

Mr McGowan said WA Labor would introduce its system in 2014-15 with a transition period where rates bill increases will be capped at a maximum of 4.5 per cent for three years.

"After that, the cap will be set by the Economic Regulation Authority (ERA)," he said.

"Our model will be similar to the New South Wales model, where rates have been capped since 1977.

"Under WA Labor's model, councils with significant long-term capital works programs can appeal their rate cap to the ERA, which will provide a recommendation to the Minister for Local Government.

"Councils will be free to set their rates at lower than the rate cap."

Mr McGowan also reinforced WA Labor's position on forced council amalgamations.

"A McGowan Government will not support forced local government amalgamations," he said.

"This is a significant point of difference between WA Labor and the Liberal and National coalition.

"Council amalgamations can often end up costing ratepayers more.

"There are better ways of achieving efficiencies than forced amalgamations."

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