Biodiversity conservation, local government finance and differential rates: The good, the bad and the potentially attractive
Local councils in New South Wales and across Australia are constrained by insufficient financial resources. This inhibits functional expansion and service improvement in non-traditional but growing areas of operation. A ready example is biodiversity conservation, where councils are under pressure to lift their game. The focus here is on local government's key funding source, namely "rating", and its implications for protecting the natural environment. As a traditional property tax, rating generally falls outside the biodiversity conservation toolbox. This raises the idea of utilising one specific aspect of rating - the categorisation and sub-categorisation of rated land - as a potential mechanism for conservation purposes. In order to achieve this, statutory and policy change is necessary, including review of the longstanding rating benefit given to farmlands. The crux of this article is the potential benefits of introducing a new rating category for conservation purposes.
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