Mr SPEIRS ( Bright ) ( 10:53 ): It is a pleasure to be able to stand today and speak on the Local Government (Rate Increases) Amendment Bill which has been tabled in the parliament by my colleague the member for Goyder. I think this is a really important piece of legislation which has the opportunity to significantly reduce the cost of living pressures being faced by ordinary South Australians the length and breadth of this state.
As many people here know, I was a member of the City of Marion council for 3½ years prior to my election to state parliament. Some people say to me that they are surprised that I would be such an advocate for this body of legislation because of my time on a council; however, one of the motivations for being such a supporter of this legislation is that very reason, because I was on a council and I was able to see firsthand the unusual way that councils went about delivering their rate rises and budget setting each year.
I have described before how I find it very backward. Rather than look at how much money they have and then consider what that money could be spent on and how far it would go, certainly the council I was involved with (and I think this is fairly common practice) would look at devising a range of projects or a wish list. They would then go away and work out how much that would cost and raise rates accordingly. I do not think many businesses would operate like that. I do not think many household budgets would operate in that way either, so it is a particular luxury afforded to very few that they get to come up with their wish list and then have the capacity to collect revenue in a way that will, accordingly, fill that wish list.
I find that quite troubling. When I was on the City of Marion council, I thought it led to a lackadaisical approach to budgetary discipline, and it resulted in poorer outcomes for the overall budget for those councils and, as a consequence, higher rates and more significant cost of living pressures being faced by South Australian households. The councils I have been involved with—the two councils that sit across my electorate are the City of Marion and the City of Holdfast Bay—have a tradition of raising rates substantially above annual inflation or CPI rates.
That does need to be called into question. It does need to be reduced, and we need to look at legislative mechanisms from this state to actually hold some of these councils to account. I commend this legislation to the house. I think it is good legislation. It has the capacity to lower household cost of living pressures in South Australia and I look forward to bipartisan support for this legislation because that is what South Australians deserve.
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