The Meeting Place

NSW Council's shocking behaviour forces pensioner to live on $20 a day

Grafton resident Alan Smith, 72, fell behind on his council rate payments. He freely admits this fact.

In response, Clarence City Council in NSW tried to sell his house out from under him.

Mr Smith claims his former wife had been spending the money on herself rather than making the payments.

"I knew her not to pay bills on smaller amounts, but not on our own home," he told A Current Affair.

Then one day, Mr Smith opened the newspaper to find that his home was for sale.

"Pretty much the bottom fell out of my world," he said.

Mr Smith said he wasn't contacted by the council, and when tired to get an explanation, he was told that everybody from senior management was too busy.

He has since been told he owed $27,000, $33,000 and now $37,000, but he's received no breakdown of the money owed, nor any disclosure on interest rates.

So, to stay in his home, Mr Smith took out a small loan to pay back the rates, and commenced a payback plan that takes up more than half his Age Pension.

He is now living on less than $20 a day.

He lives in house with no hot water, a broken washing machine, and he recently learned that he needs a cancer biopsy.

"It'll be when I can afford it, I'm afraid," he said.

His neighbours have stepped up, helping him with food and other household items.

"It's something that goes against my grain because I don't seek charity," he said.

"It's a big help, and with what I'm paying council at the moment I don't have a lot of spare money."

Clarence Valley Council would not comment on individual ratepayers' cases for privacy reasons.

What do you think of this behaviour? Should the council exercise a little more leniancy? Or do you think appropriate action was taken?

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Apparently, the  Council made a comment to someone.  A headline in the Grafton Daily Examiner (a Newscorp paper) refutes they are being cruel to Mr Smith claiming they were in fact too lenient. I can't access the full article because it has a paywall.

If we have any clever people on here who can access it - might be interesting.


Leonie, I subscribe to Newscorp.  The Grafton Daily Exminer belongs to APN News & Media.   I was going to help you, but I can't access it.

The council are considering waiving the interest on arears. Smith says he had a deal with his dead wife that she was to pay the rates but I have no idea how he would expect her to keep paying the rates for 6 years after her death. She must have been a remarkable woman. Smith has been living with relatives and returned to the house in 2016. The council realising Smith was unable to pay the rates decided to cut a deal which essentially gave the council a mortgage on the property. Their usual MO is to sell up after 5 years of non payment. Seems to me The council have tired every avenue. Same as we see from time to time with banks, liquidation is a last resort.   

Smith was told he had 1 year to live. That was 21 years ago. He claims he needs $300 for a biopsy to see if the cancer has returned.

Hmm, did ACA mention his wife had been dead for 6 years? If not, so much for the credibility of that program. If we lose our ABC we’ll be left with nothing but trash.




This man is typical of men who have no rapport with their wives. They are both at fault. Why was he not aware she did not pay the rate bill?  Why did he not make checks after she died? 

As I said earlier, this individual needs a carer.

 they can always take his money from his estate when he dies

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