SPEECH ON STATE TAXATION ACTS AMENDMENT BILL 2019

I rise to speak on the State Taxation Acts Amendment Bill 2019. Apart from amending the Duties Act 2000, the Land Tax Act 2005, the Payroll Tax Act 2007 and the Valuation of Land Act 1960, it introduces a raft of new taxes.

Honesty and integrity are important aspects of our parliamentary and democratic system. When politicians make promises and categorical statements, the electorate have a right to believe them.

It comes as a major disappointment that Daniel Andrews gave a categorical promise regarding taxes in November 2014.

He said, 'Not interested in raising taxes’, 'No plans to increase fees and fines’, 'No intention of introducing new charges’. When asked by Peter Mitchell whether he would not increase taxes or introduce any new taxes, the response was clear: 'I make that promise, Peter, to every single Victorian’.

But this government has come to power and Victorians now have 20 new or increased taxes. The electorate has in effect been fed a lie. The Treasurer is no better than the Premier. Only six months ago he also promised no new taxes. However, arrogance is also a hallmark of this Treasurer. 'Get a life’, he told Victorians who might have to spend years saving up to buy a Toyota LandCruiser.

As a member of an electorate covering about a third of rural and regional Victoria, I constantly see decisions from this government that clearly emanate from within the tram tracks of Melbourne and have little regard to those living beyond the West Gate Bridge.

If the Treasurer had ventured from the security of the ministerial wing and his new taxpayer-funded, chauffeur-driven luxury Lexus car, he might have discovered the dangerous roads for which a four-wheel drive vehicle has become a necessity.

These are no luxury vehicles; they are a safety precaution against rough roads, potholes and kangaroos. This so-called luxury car tax is expected to raise $260 million. Victoria is now the highest taxing state in Australia. Taxes are now up 36 per cent under this high-taxing, big-spending Andrews government that apparently is raking in an additional $24.4 billion.

One new tax, the 2.75 per cent gold royalty, defies history and logic. After all, we sit in this magnificent building courtesy of gold. The Labor Party champions its union roots. Those goldminers of Eureka would be horrified to see that their rebellion to stop taxation via a miners licence has been overturned by a Labor government.

Victoria’s wealth was built on the back of goldmining and the industry is enjoying a resurgence, with industries creating new jobs in my Western Victoria Region electorate.

For example, Castlemaine Goldfields, located in Ballarat, directly employs 160 and contracts another 70 or 80. The general manager said that this tax is 'a very real and present threat to our viability’.

There has been no consultation with the industry and no-one appears to know how the royalty will be levied. The new tax is scheduled to collect $56 million over four years. One business estimated it could be up for between $24 million and $31 million each year or $100 million over four years. This begs the question: does the government not know how its new tax will work, or is it hiding something from the gold industry and Victorians?

We desperately need investment outside the Melbourne tram tracks, but this government, like its federal colleagues who have just been clearly rejected by voters, clearly hates anyone who wants to create wealth, take responsibility for their own life or that of their dependants, employ people—especially in rural Victoria—and grow the Victorian economy.

The government, through its tax addiction, puts investment at risk, which will inevitably drive investment interstate or overseas. The resounding cry from many of those affected by the increased taxes is the secrecy, sneakiness, lack of transparency and complete failure to consult. Why is this so? If you are arrogant or cannot logically argue the case for many of these tax changes, the obvious answer is to operate under the cover of darkness.

The issue was compounded by the rush to push this bill through Parliament, allowing no‑one adequate time or a decent ability to consult. This verges on government by dictatorship.

The Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee, of which I am a member, even has concerns. It points to the potential human rights issues and the retrospective nature of this bill. It has asked the minister for an explanation. I look forward to that answer.

Land taxes have more than doubled under this Labor government and have raked in an extra $5.4 billion since Labor came to government. Payroll taxes are now up 27 per cent since Daniel Andrews was elected, an additional $4.1 billion. Changing the geographic location for payroll tax recipients does not help growing rural businesses who seek to expand and employ hundreds more workers.

Why penalise anyone who employs workers?

This bill is a disgrace with the way it has been rammed through by this government.

All we can say is that this is a government addicted to taxation, addicted to spending, and it does it with absolutely no consultation with the Victorian electorate.

6 June 2019