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  • Central Australian roadhouse owner, pastoralists withholding rates from council because 'we do everything ourselves'
  • By Shuba Krishnan
  • 23/01/2016 Make a Comment
  • Contributed by: Stevie ( 2 articles in 2016 )
Peter Murphy, operator of the Stuart's Well Roadhouse near Alice Springs.
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A showdown is looming between pastoralists and other residents of Central Australian regional shires who are refusing to pay their council rates, arguing they are self-sufficient and don't receive any services.

Peter Murphy, 68, known to everyone as 'Spud', is the owner of Stuarts Well roadhouse and said he was "fed up" with paying rates to the MacDonnell shire regional council.

Mr Murphy burns off all his rubbish, treats his own sewage, does not have street lights and generates his own power at the roadhouse, which is about 100 kilometres south of Alice Springs.

"You're giving stuff to MacDonnell shire council, you're not getting nothing, not a thing in return," Mr Murphy said.

Mr Murphy said the costs are starting to hurt the business he has owned for three years.

"Outgoing expenditure has a great impact on your business. Everyone thinks you make a lot of money because you got this, you got that, little do they know a lot of it goes out," Mr Murphy said.

'We do everything ourselves'

Orange Creek Station pastoralist Wally Klein has also stopped paying his council rates.

Mr Klein said he grades his own roads on his property, which are used by council, government departments and remote Indigenous communities.

"There's no provision for power, there's no provision for water, there's no provision for garbage, no provision for roads. We do absolutely everything ourselves," he said.

Damien Ryan, president of the Local Government Association of the NT, said there is a clear distinction between rates and charges.

Mr Ryan said the residents who are complaining would not be paying a charge for services.

"In the municipality there are rates and charges, like in every local government, charges are what cover for rubbish collection, and rates are a tax on land and it's the responsibility on everybody," Mr Ryan said.

Pastoralists and mining tenants pay conditional rates which are set by the NT minister for local government every year.

Mr Ryan said the changes were put in place in 2008 when the regional councils were established and NT pastoralists paid a very fair rate compared to Queensland.

"It's considerably lower than what the unimproved capital of a property is," Mr Ryan said.

Wally Klein's Orange Creek cattle station is a pastoral lease for which he pays rent to the government.

He has accused the NT Government of double dipping.

"I object to paying rates on a pastoral lease that we don't actually own, the NT Government owns it, and we are already charged rent,"

"Maybe the NT should be paying the pastoral rates to the MacDonnell shire council?" Mr Klein said.

Mr Klein has vowed to take the issue to the Northern Territory Cattleman's Association [NTCA] and said he was not alone.

"I think we'll talk to the NTCA and see if they can work something out with the NT government and the shires.

"I know there are a lot of other pastoralists that aren't happy with paying rates on pastoral leases."

The MacDonnell Shire Council has declined to be interviewed and is directing complaints to the Northern Territory Government.


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