May 30, 2016

Labor would convene mediation for a solution to airport rates

A Shorten Labor Government would convene a meeting within three months of being elected to mediate a solution to the long-running unpaid rates dispute between the Northern Midlands Council and Launceston Airport.

The Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Anthony Albanese, said Labor would also take advice on whether the Minister can require the airport to pay its rates as assessed upfront and then later argue its case if it believes it is too high.

“The airport should not be allowed to behave unlike other ratepayers who dispute their rates,” Mr Albanese said.

“Ordinary ratepayers are required to pay their assessed rates even if disputed, with any subsequent reduction later repaid by council.

“Launceston Airport is owned by a profitable company, Australia Pacific Airports Corporation (APAC),

 that also operates Melbourne Airport, and the Northern Midlands Council estimates it is owed $1 million in unpaid rates.

“This $1 million represents 12 per cent of its annual income.

“It is a debt that pales in comparison with APAC’s recent net profit of $183 million.”

Mr Mitchell said the time was long overdue for the dispute to be resolved.

“The Northern Midlands community will face continuing reduced services and a possible rate increase if this dispute cannot be settled.

“We need a fair outcome. Local ratepayers should not have to carry the burden.

“The Northern Midlands Council does not accept the valuation upon which the rates are charged.

“However, because the airport land is owned by the Federal Government, the council is unable to enforce payment as it would with other ratepayers.

“Labor will also consider intervening in any legal case between the council and the airport.”