Kiama Mayor: Farmers can have ‘rate holiday’ under hardship clause

Kiama Mayor Mark Honey
Kiama Mayor Mark Honey

Kiama Mayor Mark Honey has dismissed Kiama MP Gareth Ward’s request for councils to provide a ‘rate holiday’ for farmers on agricultural land affected by drought.

Mayor Honey said Kiama Council already caters for ratepayers who can prove they have undergone financial hardship.

“Council has a hardship clause, farmers can apply for that,” Mayor Honey said.

“The help is already there, we can accommodate any hardship under the current policy.”

The Kiama Independent asked Mr Honey to comment on the matter after Mr Ward penned a letter to local councils in the region, requesting they provide a ‘rate holiday’ for farmers affected by drought.

Mr Honey would not reveal whether council staff were considering a specific rate holiday for farmers.

He said the farmers he knew, including his family, were most concerned about sourcing stock feed.

“We’ve had increases in the prices of feed, which we’ve had to import (from regional Australia),” he said.

“The last lot of hay was from South Australia.

“The biggest dilemma now is sourcing that feed.

“Not only is the cost of feed high, the cost of transportation is high.

“There’s the possibility of it being transported from WA, they’re having a good season.”

Mr Honey said state government feed transportation subsidies would help local farmers survive the drought in upcoming months.