Federal Government agrees to pay $448,000 Benalla Council rates black hole created by sale of city's munitions plant

THE Federal Government has come to the aid of a North East council facing a $448,000 financial black hole.

Defence Minister Marise Payne has agreed to pay that figure to Benalla Council after its budget was left without $448,000 due to the sale of the Thales munitions factory to the Commonwealth.

Under the constitution, Commonwealth properties are not liable for local rates.

Pleasing outcome: Senator Bridget McKenzie, Defence Minister Senator Marise Payne and Benalla Council chief executive Tony McIlroy at their meeting in Canberra.

Pleasing outcome: Senator Bridget McKenzie, Defence Minister Senator Marise Payne and Benalla Council chief executive Tony McIlroy at their meeting in Canberra.

The council’s chief executive Tony McIlroy and Victorian Senator Bridget McKenzie met with Senator Payne in Canberra on Monday to discuss the dilemma.

Senator McKenzie said the ongoing impact of the new ownership would be discussed by the council and Defence Department but she welcomed the immediate deal as “great news”.

Mr McIIroy said the council was grateful for the result.

“The council now has some certainty on this issue and will participate in further discussions regarding future funding,” Mr McIlroy said.

The department only told the city of its decision not to pay rates after the council’s 2016-17 budget was set.

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