State Taxation Acts Amendment Bill 2017

Written on the 23 June 2017

20 June 2017

COUNCIL 

Second reading 

GEORGIE CROZIER (LIB - Southern Metropolitan)

 

I rise to speak to the State Taxation Acts Amendment Bill 2017, and can I say I have just been listening to Ms Bath's excellent contribution in relation to this piece of legislation that is before us today and how it will impact on her community and indeed communities right across the state. Mr Rich-Phillips and other speakers from the opposition have highlighted very well the false promises made by the Premier prior to the 2014 election and just how those promises have been broken. I will come back to that point because I do want to speak to those issues in relation to where we are at in Victoria at the moment.

This bill obviously relates to all things state taxation. It amends a number of acts: the Duties Act 2000, the First Home Owner Grant Act 2000, the Land Tax Act 2005, the Payroll Tax Act 2007, the Planning and Environment Act 1987, the Taxation Administration Act 1997, the Unclaimed Money Act 2008 and the Valuation of Land Act 1960. It is that last point that there has been a lot of discussion about, which I have received correspondence about, in relation to many areas around valuations. I have received lots of correspondence from valuers right around the state who have been concerned about the State Taxation Acts Amendment Bill and what the government is proposing to do. I have also received lots of correspondence from many councils from around the state outlining their concerns about what is proposed in this bill that is before us this evening.

If I can just look at what I said at the outset about the Premier and his false claims to the Victorian public, he said that he was going to make a commitment. At the time it seemed to be a genuine commitment that no new or increased taxes would be imposed on the Victorian community, and he made that promise to the Channel 7 reporter at the time. It looked like he was telling the truth, but in fact it was absolutely a completely and utterly disingenuous attempt at buying votes. As we know, we have had huge tax increases under Daniel Andrews and his government. In fact the taxes that have increased have increased revenue by around $4 billion, so this is an enormous tax increase. It is an increase in taxation revenue of around 20 per cent.

What have we seen for all of this and the huge windfalls that the government has received during its time in government, with the port sale and the increased GST revenue from the commonwealth as well? We have certainly seen that this government has been very fortunate in the amount of money that is coming in.

To think that these enormous increases in taxation are putting additional pressures onto households and business is extraordinary. It seems to me that the Premier and the government simply do not care. The Premier makes no apology for the statement he made in the lead-up to the election, which is quite extraordinary in itself.

What we know is that those taxes have resulted in high utility bills, such as gas and electricity. As we are in these winter months I am very sure that many, many people are seeing a huge rise and increase in those costs. Of course it was the Premier who said that when Hazelwood closed down there would not be a huge increase in those household electricity prices. Again he has misled the community or has he been disingenuous or worse? What is he saying to the Victorian community when he gets it so wrong all the time? Who really believes this guy anyway? In so many areas we have seen it not only in the increase in household bills and utility prices but also in commitments. We have got the Country Fire Authority (CFA) debate on in the Parliament this week. There was that absolutely disingenuous consultation no consultation with many areas of the community in so many regards.

I think it is absolutely appalling that the government is getting away with this enormous increase in taxation of the Victorian public after the Premier himself said, 'I make this promise: there will be no new taxes'. What we have got are 11 new taxes: a $252 million energy tax on coal royalties, a taxi and Uber tax, a land tax surcharge for absentee owners, a stamp duty surcharge for foreign buyers, an increase in the fire services property levy, an increase in stamp duty on new cars, new stamp duties on off-the-plan purchases, new stamp duties on property transfers between spouses, new annual property valuations to increase land tax and council rates, a new vacant residential land tax and a point-of-consumption wagering tax.

A lot of what I have just spoken about is a lot of what this bill goes to. If you look at the abolishing of the off-the-plan duty concessions for non-owner-occupiers, this could potentially have a real impact on the Melbourne property market by limiting supply. Developers need to pre-sell the developments they are undertaking, and purchasers getting those concessions up front would take care of some of those issues. The government is trying to abolish that off-the-plan stamp duty concession, and I think that is going to have some impact, as I said, in terms of possibly leading to more of an issue with the property supply here in Melbourne. We know that there are many things being squeezed at the moment, and home ownership is a very, very big issue for many people.

I also mentioned in those 11 new taxes the increased duty for new and near-new cars. That is an increase in duty on new or near-new motor vehicles that are below the luxury car tax threshold from $6.40 per $200 to $8.40 per $200. This is another broken promise of no increase in taxes. The Premier said that. He has misled the Victorian public in the most disgraceful way. Stakeholders such as the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce and the Victorian Automobile Dealers Association have raised some serious concerns in relation to that particular tax.

I also mentioned the issue of abolishing duty concessions for spouses transferring property between each other. This is a really concerning area because it can mean that those people who have got spouses or partners who want to transfer their interests in property between one another will be restricted by this government. Their ability to do so will be restricted.

The ACTING PRESIDENT (Mr Ramsay) It is a tax.

Ms CROZIER It is a tax, Acting President, and people do enter into those relationships knowing they have got property assets that they want to split. They want that security and that certainty, and now this is going to cause a great deal of angst and uncertainty amongst many people, and I think it is very concerning that the government itself is prepared to do that.

There are many more taxes, but in the time I have got remaining I want to mention the issue I spoke about in relation to land valuation. As I said at the outset, I have had many emails from valuers all across the state and also from local councils. Stonnington council, which is in the area I represent, Southern Metropolitan Region, have written to me, as have many other councils, highlighting their concerns about the issues with this legislation. In the letter I received the council clearly states:

the bill proposes to:

1.     change the revaluation cycle from two years to one year

clearly we understand that, and

2.     transfer responsibility for undertaking valuations from municipalities to the valuer-general.

Councils and municipalities have a lot of valuers that are either employed by them or contracted to them. So they are very concerned about what that will mean for those people who are providing those services to councils. In fact it will mean job losses. That will have a ripple effect obviously on those people, especially in country and regional areas, where it will impact those communities very severely.

In this letter from Stonnington council, which I want to highlight, are the reasons that the council give for why they are objecting to the State Taxation Acts Amendment Bill:

1.     No consultation

Here we go again no consultation. This government is the master of having no consultation in so many areas. I think this is very, very concerning. The council said:

The proposal has been introduced with no prior consultation with the local government sector

This is coming from a council that represents many of my constituents it is actually my local council, so obviously I get notices from it very regularly. This is indicative of the nature of this government: no consultation, ram stuff through and worry about it later.

I think people, municipalities and councils are really sick to death of this government taking this approach. It has a very dangerous disregard for the will of the people. The council also said:

2.     It will cost more

a.     performing a new valuation each year as opposed to each second year will cost more overall;

b.     councils will be expected to pay a share of this increased cost. In a rate-capping environment

another initiative of this government

this presents an added cost which will produce no benefit to local government.

Who will pay for that? It will be the ratepayers. It will be the user that pays. It will be passed on. Those constituents of mine and others are very concerned about the enormous costs that are being put onto them the whole time. I have received so many emails from constituents and others who are concerned about the land tax increases and how valuations are going to be applied.

The letter goes on:

3.     Land tax will increase

Ratepayers who pay land tax will have an increase in their land tax bill each year as opposed to each second year, resulting in additional revenue to the state.

This council is pointing out what we all know: this is a money grab by this government. The letter goes on to mention supplementary valuations, no relationship to rate caps, staffing and industrial relations implications, customer service implications and additional concerns. It lists a whole lot of them in terms of how the bill will be implemented.

I can see that there are others who wish to speak on this bill. They will probably pick up on some of the points I am trying to make, but in relation to what the valuers within Stonnington have written to me about and what the council has said about how that will be passed on, it will be passed on to the user. As one valuer said to me in a letter:

The elevated level of property owner angst, cost of appeals and legal processes as a result of new valuations every year let alone to cost of undertaking valuations annually all should not be underestimated.

These are the ripple effects of what is going to happen. If the government had gone out and consulted and discussed the matter with the councils and the likes of that valuer to understand what potentially could arise, then perhaps some of this could have been avoided, but no, in the true style of the Andrews government, which is no consultation, the government has shown disregard for so many people. Those opposite talk about governing for all. Well, one has to dispute that on so many levels, with so many examples we have seen in relation to many, many issues, not only in metropolitan Melbourne but right around the state, and of course I have already mentioned those.

Again, I think this is a very flawed bill. It has many, many issues, and I am sure that speakers following my contribution will further tease those out and highlight to the chamber just how important those flaws are.

 

 


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