Petition begins after state govt's pledge to rate payers
BILL Watson, 72, still straps on his tool belt to help fellow Mount Morgan residents with his carpentry skills.
After his job is done, all he charges "a cup of tea” to his clients, and the Walterhall man expects the same level of understanding and support from the state government over the impact of the Emergency Management Levy on landowners with property on multiple lots.
As he spoke to The Morning Bulletin yesterday, he responded to the government's plan to review the levy which charges on the number of lots rather that a single property.
Earlier this week, the Minister for Fire and Emergency Services Craig Crawford said he didn't want people to face a dire financial situation.
"The first thing I want people to do, if they receive the rates bill and the EML charge, is go back to the council to check and just make sure they've applied the right EML charge to the property you have,” Mr Crawford said.
The government is also exploring a number of legal options towards passing legislation to reduce the impact which could take up to 12 months.
However, Bill still believes the levy was "just a money grab”.
"They can do this without (the extra money) money,” he said.
He begged the question: how are these houses with multiple blocks going to get sold?
"People are faced to borrow money, one lady had to so she could pay her levies and rates,” he said.
"The levy costs are more expensive than what she paid for her house.”
Member for Mirani Stephen Andrew couldn't shed any light on the state government's plan but said "there needs to be more transparency”.
"A lot of people are going to be hurt...the government's got too many charges,” he said.
So now the waiting game begins to see if the 1,300 residents who've been impacted by the levy will dodge the bill.
Meanwhile, a petition has begun to change the regulations to section 108 of the Fire and Emergency Services Act 1990 "to restore status quo being that multiple titles having single use are only subject to one levy”.
You can visit The Morning Bulletin office if you wish to sign the petition.
Bill, a dedicated rate rebel grew up west of Mount Isa where he was taught from an early age to help others at no cost.
He recalled an image which was etched into his mind from two years of age.
It was his earliest memory.
Bill and his father were flooded in on a cattle property, his dad led them on a horse to the nearest town as they watched the water rise to the stirrups.
On their journey, they came across a man who wanted to reach a station, so Bill's father picked him up and rode into town so he could take his son to a doctor.
Once they arrived, Bill's father lent his horse to the man so he could reach his destination, an attitude young Bill wanted to adopt from his dad.
When he grew into a man, Bill was involved in the building industry, he was responsible for projects in South-East Queensland where he picked up his experience.