Legal action launched over rates

BRUCE Cleary from the Dorrigo-based No More Rates group is taking over the campaign against local government taxation from fellow rates critic Terry Martin.

Mr Cleary, another Dorrigo farmer, who is fighting against council rates, launched a legal action at Bellingen Courthouse yesterday.

Taking a similar philosophical stand to Mr Martin, saying that there is no legal or defensible connection between the ownership of land and the collection of rates, Mr Cleary says that all the rates collected by the council go to pay the costs of staff and administration or for social services.

He says none of the money collected as rates goes to projects which directly benefit the landowners from whom it is collected.

He says since all the grant money to build and repair roads and other infrastructure comes from the federal or state governments, which in turn tax citizens to supply this money, local government should become merely a department, rather than a separate and independent bureaucracy.

Australians have twice refused to grant constitutional recognition to local government when it has been included in questions in referendums.

Terry Martin, who faced having his Snows Road farm sold to recoup rates owed to Bellingen Shire Council, is currently in hospital in Sydney.

Mr Martin, 76, is understood to have become ill at home earlier this week before being hospitalised. He is believed to have suffered a heart attack.

Although he was one of the landowners whose land was listed for sale last Saturday, it is understood Mr and Mrs Martin’s rates were paid before the auction by a third party.

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