LAST week, the Liberals, supported by Labor, passed a Bill through the Lower House preventing local councils from levying rates against marine farming leases.
Traditionally, fin-fish, oyster, mussel and other marine farming activities have not paid rates on their marine leases.
What about Tasmanian land-based farmers and graziers, struggling to make ends meet after last year’s drought and severe flooding? Why should they pay rates over all their land area, when a $700 million salmon farming industry does not?
The Liberals argued the current system is unfair because some fish farms are exempt from paying rates and others are not.
No fish farm or any marine farming lease should be exempt from paying rates that have to be paid by any other business, including land-based fish farming.
The Greens tabled amendments to the Bill, which enable councils to levy rates on any marine farm for commercial activities that occur in state waters.
It’s a question Legislative Council members will need to address – whether councils should be able to choose to levy rates from marine farms, just like any other business.
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Rosalie Woodruff, Mercury Talking Point