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Local Government (Fixed Charges) Amendment Bill

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY (16:58): I am introducing this bill to the chamber again, as it had lapsed due to prorogation. Its form and purpose remain identical to what was previously introduced into this place, but for the benefit of other members I remind them that the purpose of my bill is to prevent councils from charging a minimum rate per individual living unit in a retirement village.

Currently, the Local Government Act prevents councils from charging a minimum rate against individual sites in caravan parks, residential parks and marinas. My bill seeks to add retirement villages to this list. Retirement villages are similar to those properties listed in the act and, therefore, their inclusion is warranted. For instance, like the properties currently listed in the act, individual living units can exist on one title with individuals being given a licence to occupy a portion of that title.

It is also important to recognise that retirement villages receive unequal council services when compared to other properties. For example, councils do not provide roads, pathways, street lighting, rubbish removal or verge maintenance within a retirement village. These costs are the responsibility of residents or village owners, depending on the contract. It seems unreasonable to unfairly penalise retirement villages with imposed fixed charges on their council rates considering they also have to wear these extra costs.

I recognise that councils also provide a variety of other services that are beneficial to retirement villages, so councils will still be able to attribute rates to a retirement village as a whole. As members may know, I have had considerable involvement in working with pensioners living in retirement villages and I feel very passionately about supporting them in any way possible. Those living in retirement villages represent some of our most vulnerable members of society. If passed, my bill will help them in a small way financially with their council rates. As many can appreciate, pensioners' pockets are not deep and every dollar that they can save certainly counts.