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GM dismisses tariff claims

Bland Shire General Manager Ray Smith has categorically denied reports that Council is considering imposing a tariff on corporate agribusiness for the use of local roads during harvest.

After reports appeared in two regional publications last week suggesting Council was contemplating introducing a tariff to help fund the upkeep of its road network, Mr Smith moved swiftly to reject this assertion and reaffirmed Council’s desire to work with agribusiness and the transport industry to lobby Government for fairer funding for roads.

“I am well aware that Council cannot impose such a tariff and as such it has never been considered,” Mr Smith said.

The reports followed an interview Mr Smith conducted with The Land newspaper last week regarding the decision by GrainCorp to close its Ungarie silos and the likely impact on the local road network. The closure will force heavy vehicles which have previously delivered to Ungarie to travel extra distance to the silos at Calleen.

“I was asked if some sort of levy, tax or tariff should be introduced on the transport industry and I replied that this could be one way of increasing our revenue but we have to remember that our local farmers are already paying rates and that the transport industry are also paying levies and taxes,” Mr Smith said.

“I concluded by suggesting that there should be a joint effort by Local Government and the transport industry to lobby the Government for a greater return to local councils of the taxes they collect for road related uses.”

Mr Smith said Council is committed to supporting agribusiness in the Bland Shire as evidenced by its recent decision to participate in the Grain Harvest Management Scheme (GHMS) for the next five years.

Council’s participation in the GHMS will allow eligible trucks delivering to participating receival sites between 1 October and 1 March each year up until 2021 to be given flexibility of up to five per cent over general mass limits for both gross vehicle mass and axle group masses.