Rates stand-off

Tristan WheelerManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Boyup Brook Shire Council are against the Declared Pest Rate.
Camera IconBoyup Brook Shire Council are against the Declared Pest Rate. Credit: South Western Times

The Boyup Brook Shire Council has come to a stand-off with a State Government department in the ongoing fight over declared pest rates.

Shire deputy president Richard Walker said in his capacity as a ratepayer he would not be paying the rate — which would charge $40 for a property within a townsite and $50 for property outside of a townsite — and called for other members of the community to do the same.

“It’s my personal view on things and I certainly wasn’t trying to use my role on the council to influence people’s decisions, it was basically encouraging people to stand up for their rights,” he said.

Shire president Graham Aird said he did not have a problem with Cr Walker’s stance.

“I don’t think there is a problem with an individual voicing their own concerns, yes it’s coming from a councillor, but I think most of the councillors are thinking along the same lines, as are most of the people in our community,” he said.

The rates are used to fund registered biosecurity groups and each dollar raised in rates is matched by the State Government.

The council has concerns about the effectiveness of the registered biosecurity group model and lack of consultation and public support from its constituency.

Cr Aird said the council was trying to make a stand against what it considers to be an enforced levy it did not agree to.

“I think it’s time that we had a strong argument with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development,” he said.

“We are going to have to go to the next level on this pretty shortly and all this time that’s elapsed since we made the decision to have a public meeting on this last year — to try and glean the community’s consensus — we’ve been whittled away with these notices to pay.

“There is a few of us included in this, who are pretty vocal about our opposition to this rate and really to say to not pay it is indicating the argument that we’ve had from day one, that we don’t agree with the RBG model.”

A department spokeswoman said the department was disappointed it could not meet with the council and reinforced the department’s support for the registered biosecurity group model.

“While DPIRD understands that some local government areas and their residents are hesitant to support an RBG when first set up, once the benefits are seen by individuals and the LGAs, and the resulting control of declared pests through their activities, education, and engagement, they usually become supportive,” she said.

Blackwood Biosecurity Inc. is the group responsible for the shires of Boyup Brook, Bridgetown-Greenbushes, Nannup and West Arthur.

Bridgetown-Greenbushes Shire Council president John Nicholas said the declared pest rate was out of the council’s control and was a matter for the State Government.

The Nannup Shire Council’s ratepayers are exempt from paying the declared pest rate.

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