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Waiving of LLS rates for farmers halved

By Kerrin Thomas, Monday June 16, 2014 - 15:49 EST
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John Macarthur-Stanham says Local Land Services did not make the decision to halve the waiving of rates by six months. - ABC

The Chairman of Local Land Services says his organisation had no say in reducing the period for which LLS rates would be waived for drought affected farmers.

In February, farmers in around 20 Local Government Areas in the north and west of the state were declared as 'in drought' and told their Local Land Services rates would be waived for 12 months.

John Macarthur-Stanham says Local Land Services wasn't consulted before that was halved to six months.

He acknowledges some farmers may still be expecting the full waiver when they receive their rate notice this week.

"They will have had expectations I guess based on media releases," he said.

"The last release relevant to this was actually made by Local Land Services, and that was at the beginning of June, and it made very clear that the rate rebate farmers would be getting was for the six month period.

"That equates to 50 percent of the rate notice so if farmers had been aware of that last media release, they would be understanding of the payments coming."

He says tens of millions of dollars has been made available to drought affected farmers.

"You've got to come back to the whole package that the Government is now offering to drought affected farmers, which is now $30 million, so it's a substantial amount of money," Mr Macarthur-Stanham said.

"That's an impost on Treasury and the NSW taxpayers, so I think people have also got to look at the glass as being half full, rather than being on the half empty side."

Mr Macarthur-Stanham says the role of LLS is to provide advice to the state government on drought conditions, and lobbying for drought assistance would tarnish that advice.

"It's important that it doesn't become a lobbyist in that area, as LLS's role in drought or seasonal reporting is to provide unbiased, independent, reliable advice," he said.

"That's what we do, [and] if LLS starts to get involved in lobbying government for support, the advice we provide is grey at best."


- ABC

© ABC 2014

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