NOT OVER YET: Rain may have started filling these dry dams, but farmers still have to survive a failed season.
NOT OVER YET: Rain may have started filling these dry dams, but farmers still have to survive a failed season. Valerie Horton

Rates break as Gympie region backs farmers in a bleak year

GYMPIE region farmers will be able to pay their council rates five months late, without any late payment penalty.

This follows a unanimous decision of councillors who on Wednesday recognised that even drought breaking rain would not end the drought worries of many farmers.

A rates relief motion, to defer any penalties for late payment of penalties, was presented to a special general meeting of the council yesterday.

The motion was "self-explanatory,” Gympie Regional Council CEO Bernard Smith told the meeting.

"It's something the council has done in the past and it is for council to determine if it wants to do it again,” he said.

"It doesn't rain money or grass and crops,” Mary Valley councillor James Cochrane told a special drought meeting of the council yesterday.

"Although the markets have stayed strong, many farmers have failed crops.

"It's important for the council to give people the break they need.

"It's very important we as a council acknowledge the importance of primary industry.”

Deputy Mayor Bob Leitch endorsed Cr Cochrane's remarks about the importance of agriculture to the regional economy.

He said his dams were still low "and grass still takes time to grow. If the rain had been any later in the season, "grass would not have grown at all.”

Councillors unanimously supported a motion from Cr Mal Gear, seconded by Cr Mark McDonald, allowing farmers to make late rates payments, with all penalties deferred until August 11.

Crs Gear and McDonald emphasised the serious nature of the drought's lingering effects.

Gympie Times


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