Local Aboriginal Land Councils (LALCs) may be exempt from paying rates and charges to Local Government Authorities and water supply authorities on certain types of land.
The types of land which may be exempt from rates include:
- Land not being used for a commercial or residential purpose (vacant land)
- Land not being used for a residential purpose and declared by the LALC to be of cultural or spiritual significance.
A rates exemption may be applied for in respect of land which is not being used for a residential or commercial purpose, and if not used for residential purposes is declared by the LALC to be of cultural or spiritual significance. For a LALC to obtain the exemption, the Minister must approve a Council’s members’ resolution that the land is not being used for a residential purpose and is of spiritual or cultural significance to Aboriginal people. This can include land being used for a commercial purpose such as a cultural centre or museum.
‘Commercial’ or ‘Residential’ Land
Whether the use of land is ‘commercial’ or ‘residential’ is not always clear and needs to be determined case by case. Decisions made by previous Ministers of Aboriginal Affairs can provide some guidance. However, as the definition of ‘residential’ and ‘commercial’ land use depends on individual circumstances, a determination may need to be negotiated between a land council and the Local Government Authority.
‘Commercial’ - Previous Ministers of Aboriginal Affairs have determined land to be ‘commercial’ if it is being used to make money on a regular, seasonal or routine basis. That is, it is being used for a ‘commercial purpose’.
If money is made using a piece of land once or twice, but not on an ongoing basis, then it may be declared rate-free because it is not being used for a ‘commercial purpose’.
‘Residential’ – Previous Ministers of Aboriginal Affairs have determined land to be ‘residential’ if it is being lived on, or is the site of a house, caravan or some other accommodation suitable as a residence.
However, land with a building that was once used as accommodation, but has since fallen into disrepair and is no longer suitable as a residence, has previously been determined not to be residential land.
Further information on Rates Exemptions is available here
Want to know more?
NSW Aboriginal Land Council on (02) 9689 4444
Local Government (02) 9242 4000
Office of Local Government (02) 4428 4100