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No evidence of rates 'rorts'

10 November 2004

There is no evidence of "rates rorts" in a 'report' which has turned out to be two tables, some graphs and no analysis.

SA's Local Government Association has expressed shock after having received a copy of the "report" on which the Advertiser based claims of 'rorts'.

"There is no report," Cr Legoe said. "We have been sent a file containing two tables and some graphs. "Excluding headings in the tables there is no text at all - not one word of analysis."

Cr Legoe said the file contained no evidence of "rorts" and it was becoming increasingly clear that the claimed 41% growth figure was simply wrong. One Council had identified errors of more than $10m in the Advertiser data.

A copy of both the file and an Institute of Chartered Accountants of Australia media statement containing significant errors had been placed on the LGA website, with permission, to assist people to scrutinise the information.

Cr Legoe said that Local Government was very clear about problems with the rating system. "It is clear that many Councils have struggled to deal with uneven valuations and their impact on people with fixed incomes in particular," he said.

"We can do better in this area and we have a strategy in place with the government to address these issues. "I am most angry that our work on these real issues has been interrupted to deal with false claims of 'rorts' and an error filled pseudo report."

Cr Legoe said the LGA would seek accurate figures from Councils and have them audited. I would hope we can identify all the errors within about two weeks.

"We should not lose sight of the fact that according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Local Government tax growth is the lowest of all government in Australia and our share of tax in Australia has fallen from 5.3% in 1969, to 3.2% in 1999 and 3% in 2003."

"Our big problem is managing the impact on rates when property valuation growth is highly uneven - that's what we haven't managed as well as we could and what we are working to fix.

Cr Legoe said he would be writing to the Editor of the Advertiser, the Institute of Chartered Accountants and KPMG over the issue and had invited KMPG and ICAA staff to address a meeting of metropolitan Council CEOs to explain their role in the exercise.

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