The High Court of Australia has affirmed the right of a west Tasmanian council to levy rates on the seabed. It is still land, even underwater.
Council saw the land under eight marine farming leases as ‘rateable land’, Tasmania’s Valuer General declined to value them as not ‘Crown lands that are liable to be rated in accordance with Part 9 of the Local Government Act 1993.’
The court has dismissed an appeal against a decision of the Full Court of the Supreme Court of Tasmania, holding that the seabed and waters of Macquarie Harbour were crown lands.
The West Coast Council had sought to levy rates on eight marine farming leases on parts of the seabed and waters within Macquarie Harbour.
It asked the valuer-general to value the leases, which was declined as it was considered the areas did not fall into the definition of “lands” in the relevant laws.
The council began proceedings in the Supreme Court for a declaration that the valuer-general was obliged to value the marine leasings.
The council lost, and appealed to the Full Court, which allowed the appeal.
The valuer-general then appealed to the High Court.
So, after all that legal argy-bargy, we now know the sea-bed is land and subject to rates and even land tax. The High Court told us so.