Ratepayer frustration grows

Taylar AmoniniNorth West Telegraph
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Port Hedland is being overlooked by State and Federal Government according to the president of the Port Hedland Ratepayers’ Association.

Association president John Peters’ comments come just a week after the Town of Port Hedland decided to push for a 2.5 per cent rates rise for residents.

Mr Peters said no one was looking after the regional town and small businesses and residents were paying the price.

“On top of the ridiculous insurance costs for the Pilbara compared to over east and our harsh environmental conditions, we have issues like antisocial behaviour ... South Hedland is sometimes like a war zone,” he said.

“Who is going to do anything for this town? Which agency is responsible for us?

“We are definitely taking this matter and others to the State Government and will be asking who is responsible for this town.”

Members of the association held meetings with the Department of Housing and BHP Billiton last week which the Telegraph was not able to attend, but it is understood the association members present decided to concentrate on five key lobbying items.

The issues are Port Hedland becoming a special economic zone; a reduction in housing rates by 50 per cent; a cut in airfare costs to a maximum of $200 one-way; a 25 per cent subsidy on electricity bills funded by Royalties for Regions; and for the Department of Housing to address antisocial behaviour in town.

Mr Peters said the association wanted Port Hedland to be considered a special economic zone for the purpose of tax and insurance issues, claiming Port Hedland was unfairly targeted for its cyclone season. “Our last major cyclone was cyclone George (2007), since then there are more cyclones and damage on the east coast, yet they are not receiving the same treatment,” he said.

“For insurance alone, we have taken quotes for housing in the east coast costing $1400, when for the exact same house, design and specifics, it will cost $8000. This combined with rates, electricity bills, our harsh climate and all the other things, it is not encouraging businesses to come to town.”

Spokesman for the association, Arnold Carter said last week’s meetings had been very constructive and both organisations had been very responsive to ratepayers’ requests.

The association will hold a meeting on Monday, May 15 to ensure the proposed lobbying items are universally endorsed and to devise a plan moving forward.

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