Legistrative Council E-Petitions

E-petition Number
Access to rate assistance for ratepayers
The Petition of certain citizens of the State of Victoria draws to the attention of the Legislative Council that during a time of unprecedented financial hardship and community stress Victorian councils are misrepresenting state legislation to deny ratepayers access to financial relief. Section 171(a) of the Local Government Act 1989 allows residents to apply for cuts to all or part of their rates if paying those rates would inflict financial hardship on the ratepayer or their immediate family.

Local councils in Victoria use the word “hardship” in their policies and application forms to offer ratepayers deferrals of rates, payment plans and waivers on interest. This mis-use of the word “hardship” by a third tier of government, wrongly implies to ratepayers that there is no other avenue of rate relief available. Furthermore councils are now replying to ratepayers with headlines saying ‘application granted’, when in fact the council has refused to cut rates and is only offering a deferral or payment plan. This significantly damages the community’s trust in their local council. It further undermines the intent of the hardship provisions in the Local Government Act 1989 and reflects poorly on the integrity of the Victorian State Government and local councils.
The petitioners therefore request that the Legislative Council call on the Minister for Local Government, the Honourable Shaun Leane, and the Government to undertake to make no changes to the Local Government Act 1989 that removes the right to hardship assistance, work with local councils to review and redraft their policies by 30 December 2020 relating to rate payment assistance to reflect section 171A of the Local Government Act 1989, and require local councils to issue public apologies for their misuse of the term ‘hardship’ and to report the number of hardship applications received and granted at each local council meeting.
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