Taxation Finance

State Taxations (Amendment) Bill 2017 - Second Reading

24th May 2017

Debate resumed.

Mr WALSH (Murray Plains) — I rise to make a contribution on the State Taxation Acts Amendment Bill 2017. I note with interest that the member for Thomastown was talking about liars. Well, the biggest liar of all in this house when it comes to taxation is actually the Premier. On the eve of the 2014 election the now Premier stood on the front steps of Parliament House in a live cross to Peter Mitchell from Channel 7. Peter Mitchell asked the then opposition leader, now Premier:

Daniel Andrews … do you promise Victorians …

if elected as Premier —

that you will not increase taxes or introduce any new taxes?

And the now Premier looked at everyone — looked all Victorians in the eye down the camera — and said:

I make that promise, Peter …

I suppose what we see with the bill before the house at the moment is a series of broken promises from the Premier of Victoria. If you actually look at the tax take since the Premier became Premier, Victorians are paying something like $4 billion more in taxation than they were when the Andrews government came into power. That is more than a 20 per cent increase in the tax take of this state.

As a lot of people are saying, we are paying more and getting less. If you live in country Victoria, it is particularly the case that you are paying more and you are getting less from the Andrews government, because we effectively have a Premier for Melbourne. We do not have a Premier for Victoria at all. He is just a Premier for Melbourne and this is a government for Melbourne if you live in country Victoria.

Let us look at the history of those increased taxes, including the increase in the coal royalty. A $250 million increase in the coal royalty has been one of the contributors to the energy crisis that we have here in Victoria and the very real pressure our businesses here in Victoria that use energy, particularly in our food processing sector, are under with increased power prices. As I have said in this house on a number of occasions now, I have got a dairy food processor in my area who has had a 50 per cent increase in the energy component of their power bill — a 50 per cent increase! They are both a domestic supplier of milk and an exporter of fresh milk. It is a company that is very, very innovative and doing bulk exports of fresh milk to Malaysia. They have to compete on the international market, and they are saddled with a 50 per cent increase in the energy component of their power bill directly as a result of Andrews government policy.

It is equally the case with gas prices and the availability of gas. We are going to see a lot of businesses having a really serious look at whether they continue to operate in Victoria because of the policy decisions by this government around energy pricing and energy availability. That just goes back to that broken promise by the Premier of this state that he would not increase taxes or introduce new taxes.

Those same costs equally apply to household bills. We are now seeing more people in default on their energy bills than we have ever seen before, because people are just really struggling to pay their power bills in this state, and it is placing a real cost of living pressure on those people as they try to meet the costs of their energy.

If you go to some of the specifics of the new taxes or the taxes that have been increased in this particular bill, one of the very insidious increases is the increase in the duty on new and near‑new motor vehicles, which is in clause 46 of the bill. We have seen an increase from $6.40 per $200 to $8.40 per $200 in the cost of buying a motor vehicle. This is something that has been violently opposed by the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce and the Australian Automobile Dealers Association, because it is anti‑jobs in this state.

If you look at this from a country person’s point of view, country people do not have access to public transport. Country people rely on motor vehicles to do all the things that they do. This will significantly increase the cost of buying a motor car. For businesses that are on the South Australian border or the New South Wales border, it actually puts our car dealers at a competitive disadvantage to the car dealers in the cross‑border towns where people will actually cross into other states to buy vehicles where it will be cheaper because of these taxes. This is clearly a broken promise by the Premier, by the Andrews government. They are significantly increasing the cost of buying a motor vehicle.

Most of the approaches that have been made to me about this particular bill have been on the changes to property valuations and the fact that in future the valuer‑general will be in charge of all local government valuations and the letting of tenders for those. I had a meeting with the Municipal Association of Victoria the other day. They are saying that this change in the valuation cycle and the way it is going to be done will cost local government somewhere between $20 million and $25 million per year. That money will go straight out of local government and will be money that they will not be able to spend on fixing roads or on delivering their services. That will go into the cost of running these property valuations annually rather than through the biennial system that exists at the moment.

I have also been approached by a number of valuers who do work for shire valuations. Their view of the world, if I could precis it, is that it is effectively anti‑competitive and that it is actually creating a monopoly for the valuer‑general in how valuations are done in this state in the future. Those businesses have spent quite a few years building up the intellectual property in their business, building up the platforms as to how they do those valuations and how they record that information for those valuations. That will be all for nought now, because the valuer‑general will have his systems that they will have to comply with if they want to get any work on this into the future.

There is a very real and grave concern in local government about the costs that they will bear in having to do these valuations annually. While there is effectively very little benefit in it for local government, there is a huge benefit in it for the state government because it will be able to capture the increases in property values quicker. But it will also lead to some significant fluctuations by doing it annually instead of smoothing it over two years.

On this particular bill there is a history of broken promises, and all this bill does is reinforce those broken promises into the future. As I said, country Victorians are paying more and they are getting less out of the Andrews government, and nothing looks like changing in the future. As I was saying before in the debate on the matter of public importance about the Country Fire Authority issues, people are coming up to me in the street unsolicited and asking, ‘How long is it until the next election? How can we get rid of this Andrews government?’. When I say to them, ‘You’ve got to wait till the end of November next year to do it’, they say, ‘God, is it that long? We need to get a change quicker than that’. The public of Victoria, particularly country Victoria, are just over the Andrews government. They are sick and tired of being treated as second‑class citizens. They are sick and tired, as with this bill, of paying more taxes and getting less into the future.

Honourable members interjecting.

Mr WALSH — In this state we have a Premier for Melbourne, and we have a government for Melbourne.

Mr McGuire interjected.

Mr WALSH — The member for Broadmeadows might want to interject and pooh‑pooh that, but no‑one out there believes anything different about this particular issue.

Honourable members interjecting.

Mr WALSH — There is no money. The state government is collecting $4 billion more in taxation, and it is not spending any of that in country Victoria. I rest my case.

Mr McGuire interjected.

Mr WALSH — The member for Broadmeadows can bang on all he likes. The truth is that country Victorians are getting absolutely zilch out of this particular government — except for the fact that they are actually paying more taxes.


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