Nationals’ win for Shires and Regional Victoria

Strong opposition from the Liberal/Nationals in the Legislative Council has resulted in the Andrews Labor Government today abandoning unpopular plans to centralise property valuations for the entire state to Valuer-General’s office in Melbourne.

An amendment to remove Part 9 of the State Taxation Acts Amendment Bill 2017 passed the upper house this afternoon.

The section would have forced all councils across the state to use property valuations from the Valuer-General’s office, rather than use local expertise with in-house council-based valuers, as has been done successfully for many years.

The proposed changes also meant that valuations would have been made every year, rather than the current two years.

Member for Eastern Victoria Melina Bath detailed the concerns of both councils and property owners in parliament on Tuesday, prior to today’s back-down.

“One of the key things about in-house property valuations is that such valuers understand and know the terrain,” Ms Bath said. “They understand the local topography, weather conditions and soil conditions and the lay of the land in their area.”

“This move will create an increase in council costs and a loss of jobs and will result in a centralised control of valuations in the heart of the city.”

The move was also condemned in the Environment and Planning Committee’s Fourth Report into Rate Capping Policy, which was tabled in parliament also on Tuesday. The report noted:

“The committee notes concerns that valuers employed by councils and associated staff could be made redundant as a result of this policy change, and that the redundancy payments could cause financial pressure for councils.”

Ms Bath welcomed the outcome from parliament this afternoon.

“This really is a win for councils and common sense, and an embarrassing back-down for the Andrews Labor Government. If the Premier had listened to councils in the first place – undertaken proper consultation for a change – he wouldn’t have created this mess.”

“It’s fantastic that the Liberals and Nationals have been able to secure this win for Regional Victoria today.”