SA Govt scraps push to cap council rates, blaming ‘politics’

A pre-election pledge by the Marshall Government to introduce a cap on council rate rises in South Australia has been dumped.

After failing to secure Upper House backing for its rate cap legislation, the Government this week introduced a new council reform plan to State Parliament which proposes an alternative mechanism to “protect homeowners from rampant rate rises”.

Local Government Minister Vickie Chapman, pictured above with Premier Steven Marshall, said the new package – which includes measures to improve council standards and requires them to consult with independent experts on their budgets – had been necessitated by the Labor Opposition and crossbenchers “playing politics”.

Local councils have long argued that rate caps are a blunt tool that ignores the unique needs of local communities.

Local Government Association of South Australia (LGSA) President Sam Telfer said councils had been calling for “sensible and effective” reform for many years to increase transparency for ratepayers.

“However, we have consistently opposed bad public policy that would cost money, create more red tape and provide no benefit to ratepayers,” Mr Telfer said.

“This Bill introduces a new scheme for independent oversight of local government financial management, without encroaching on local decision-making,” he said.

The Government’s new plan will still require that feedback on spending plans given by the Essential Services Commission of SA is considered and made public.