The plan would require changing the council rating system to allow for more differentials than the current scheme, which considers residential and non-residential land. Under the existing system, the highest ratepayer can pay only double the rate of the lowest.

The extra income from gaming venues would also allow for an effective rate freeze on residential and all other non-residential properties in the first year of the scheme, according to the plan.

“To be clear, this is effectively a ‘wealth tax’ on gambling venues for five years to offset significant rate reductions to hundreds of cultural and hospitality venues in the city, to get Melbourne through the recession with as few venue and business closures as possible,” the policy initiative says.

Ms Sabaratnam, who has lived in the Melbourne City Council area for almost 20 years, said gaming venues had more capacity to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s definitely not about punishing one category of business over another. It’s about recognising which businesses will be able to come back from this,” she said.

“It’s about how can we make sure the recovery is as quick as possible for not just hundreds of businesses, we’re talking about thousands of businesses being able to actually survive this pandemic.

“We want to see our bars and clubs thronging with patrons, our live music venues platforming new and exciting talent, and our restaurants and cafes buzzing with diners.”

The rate overhaul would affect pubs that have poker machines in the CBD and all venues with gambling facilities.

Lord mayor Sally Capp remains the frontrunner in the October 24 election. Deputy mayor Arron Wood, Labor candidate Phil Reed and the Greens are also in the race.Labor-aligned Jennifer Yang is also expected to announce her intention to run.

City of Melbourne Greens councillor Rohan Leppert in 2018.Credit:Justin McManus

Ms Sabaratnam will run with health worker Roxane Ingleton as her deputy.

Greens councillor Rohan Leppert will remain the first councillor candidate, while Cathy Oke will retire and be replaced by Dr Olivia Ball as the second candidate. Emily Corcoran, David Jeffery, Nakita Thomson and Charlotte George are also Greens council candidates.

Ms Sabaratnam was born in Sri Lanka and moved to Melbourne with her family before finishing high school. She teaches at RMIT University and the city campus of Box Hill Institute in marketing, management and human resources.

The Tamil woman also ran for a Victorian Senate spot in 2019 and was the third council candidate for the Greens at the 2016 Melbourne election.

The Greens have also pledged to provide a full rate rebate to bars and restaurants for the duration of the lockdown in this financial year and to push the state government to extend its liquor licence-fee waiver for all venues for another year, until the end of 2022.


The pensioner rebate subsidy would also be boosted from $120.50 to $198.20 under the Greens plan, which would make it the equal highest in the state with the City of Maribyrnong.

Candidates in greater Melbourne are effectively banned from campaigning outside their homes under lockdown rules. Doorknocking, leafletting, campaign events and advertising on billboards are all ruled out under stage four restrictions.

Last week, Labor lord mayor candidate Phil Reed announced plans to provide a rate holiday to new built-to-rent developments that include at least 30 per cent affordable housing. The concession would be provided for 20 years, for up to 20,000 homes built in the next four years.

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Rachel is a city reporter for The Age.


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