Corangamite Shire must take a more proactive approach to ensure it grows and prospers, council candidate Bev McArthur says.
Mrs McArthur lists a fairer go for rural ratepayers, encouraging business, tourism and population growth and a council that focuses on its core business as among her priorities for Corangamite Shire.
The Liberal Party stalwart and wife of past Member for Corangamite Stewart McArthur is standing in the shire’s central ward, which covers Camperdown, Terang and surrounding areas.
“I’m absolutely determined to try to bring new development and investment and growth into the area because I want young people in this area to have a future,” Mrs McArthur said.
“You couldn’t find an area with more opportunity. It’s got amazing coastal beauty, it’s got a rich hinterland, it’s a food and fibre bowl for many, we’ve got all sorts of value-added and exciting industries. I think there can be more of those, we’ve got to tap into what we can do very well here with climate and resources, the land, the skill base in agriculture and capitilise on it, that’s where we can set ourselves apart from the pack.”
Mrs McArthur has balanced work with the Liberal Party alongside bringing up three now-adult children and lives on a beef property at Bookar.
She said when it came to rates, farmers should be paying less.
“I think rural ratepayers are paying far too much and the roads are in the worst condition they have ever been and that’s what rural ratepayers really depend on,” Mrs McArthur said.
“This is a rural municipality and I’m very concerned there has been massive rate hikes for many rural properties, some I’ve heard in the vicinity of 17 per cent. The council might say ‘we’ve got rate capping’ but rate capping is just a global amount that they can’t increase the rates by, so while their total pool can’t increase any more than 2.5 per cent, individual properties can have their rates hiked up dramatically.”
Instead, the focus should be on boosting Corangamite’s ratepayer base, Mrs McArthur said.
“If you keep wanting to spend this amount of money with the base shrinking than you’re just going to put up the rates and so fewer people are going to be burdened even further,” she said.
“I think the council needs some fresh faces, a new approach and it needs to think about how we’re going to grow the population because it’s unsustainable to keep on raising taxes on the few.”
Mrs McArthur said the council should also be focussing on its core business ahead of “feel good projects” such as streetscape rejuvenation and event planning.
“Roads, footpaths, maintaining public spaces properly, that’s their core role,” she said.
“I’ve been a critic of the way all governments spend money and I’m very concerned that local government is no longer an entity in its own right, it’s become a bit of a hand-maiden to state government, really the deliverer of services imposed on them.
“I think local government has to assert its role in the three tiers of government and say ‘no, we think enough’s enough’. We need to make sure our ratepayers have their rates spent properly and it’s all fair and equitable.”