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Local Government (Fixed Charges) Amendment Bill

Introduction and First Reading

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY (17:43): Obtained leave and introduced a bill for an act to amend the Local Government Act 1999. Read a first time.

Second Reading

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY (17:44): I move: That this bill be now read a second time.

This bill seeks to amend the Local Government Act so that councils will not be able to charge a minimum rate for an individual living unit in a retirement village. Currently the act provides that a fixed charge cannot be charged against individual sites in caravan parks, residential parks and marinas. This bill will see retirement villages added to this list.

Like the properties that are already included in the Local Government Act, individual living units are small portions of a whole, namely the retirement village. Retirement villages are often on one title, with residents being given a licence to occupy by way of a contract. Councils provide no services within the retirement villages; street lighting, rubbish removal, road maintenance and verge maintenance are all the responsibility of the residents or the village owners, depending on the contract.

I know the issue of council rates has long been a bugbear for the South Australian Retirement Villages Residents Association (SARVRA), who have campaigned for reduced council rates in recognition of their unique circumstances. It seems unfair to charge a unit in a retirement village the same rates as a comparable residential unit which is not in the village when residential units receive so many more services from council.

I am not saying that retirement villages should pay nothing for their council rates, as residents still have access to many of the facilities that council offer. Much like caravan parks, residential parks and marinas, councils will still be able to attribute rates to a retirement village as a whole. It will then be up to the village management to determine how this cost is to be apportioned to individual units.

Retirement villages house some of our community's most vulnerable people. These people have worked their entire life, and do not deserve to be unfairly treated. I commend the bill to the chamber.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. T.J. Stephens.