In Parliament

Bill Debate - State Taxation and Mental Health Acts Amendment Bill 2021



Wednesday, 26 May 2021.

Mr NEWBURY (Brighton) (15:55):

I rise to speak on the State Taxation and Mental Health Acts Amendment Bill 2021.

The Labor Party should be ashamed of itself. As we have a debate in this Chamber about Labor’s new tax attack, Victorians across the State are anticipating a further state-wide lockdown.

Reports this afternoon are suggesting that the authorities are considering a five-day lockdown. Think about that.

Businesses are scared out of their wits that another lockdown is coming, and this Labor Government is proposing a harmful tax, a series of harmful taxes, in this place. You should be ashamed.

Not only does Labor want you to welcome these new taxes, they want Victorians to know how lucky they are. You are lucky because of the attack of new taxes— $5.8 billion—they are going to hit you with!

What Labor do not understand is it is not their money. We have heard Speaker after Speaker with the presumption somehow that Victorians do not have a right to their own money.

They made it. They created it.

Labor has introduced or expanded 38 taxes since they were elected.

So say, ‘Thank you’, Victoria, because this Bill will introduce the most damaging taxes yet—a tax package containing increased stamp duty, increased land tax, new windfall gains taxes and, dangerously, a new payroll tax on business.

The Bill will hurt home owners and it will damage job creators. Labor’s Budget is a tax attack on wealth creators, Victorians who have had a go.

We know, because the Acting Premier admits the new payroll tax, which will hit over 9,000 businesses, was ‘targeted’. It was targeted. If you are a tall poppy, Labor will assault you with a new tax.

Not only does Labor want to hurt you, they want you to welcome this tax attack. The Treasurer has said he wants taxed home owners to have ‘a warm inner glow’ and further that new taxes on job creators should be welcomed as an obligation.

The Treasurer’s language is code. What he means is that Labor has racked up $156 billion in debt and already overspent $22 billion in cost blowouts. This is ideological.

As Paul Guerra, the chief executive of the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said:

We’re really concerned that businesses continue to foot the bill for these … ongoing cost blowouts on government projects.

Labor will never dip into their own pockets to pay for their economic vandalism. No, they will always dip their grubby hands into Victorians’ pockets, or more specifically, the Acting Premier has admitted that Labor has targeted the burden.

This Budget and these taxes have been targeted at wealth creators, the tall poppies that Labor innately hates, the people who the Treasurer has previously described as those who can ‘afford to pay’—afford to pay the backbreaking $5.8 billion in new and additional taxes. This is a tax attack on Victorians.

There are two issues with Labor’s attack. Firstly, the attack is ideological, and class based. It is an overt attack on tall poppies, on wealth creators. But secondly, and this should concern all Victorians, the budget is economically dangerous—a dangerous Budget that actively and deliberately hurts our state economy.

Jennifer Westacott, the chief executive of the Business Council of Australia, said the new payroll tax:

… sets a very dangerous precedent of fiscal repair which ultimately harms growth.

Industry groups agree, with the Housing Industry Association, the Master Builders, the Property Council, the Real Estate Institute of Victoria and the Urban Development Institute writing to the Acting Premier and Treasurer, quote:

We are gravely concerned about the impact these increased and new taxes will have on our industry, on Victorian home owners, home buyers and businesses, and the very real threat that these tax hikes will cripple Victoria’s economic recovery.

Similarly, CPA Australia said:

… by seeking to raise tax revenues at this stage of the economic cycle, the Victorian Government risks damaging the state’s recovery.

It doesn’t make sense to impose new costs on businesses and investors now. People and money are mobile. New taxes will undermine confidence and may drive them away.

And the assessment from the property industry has been equally alarming. The President of the Real Estate Institute of Victoria said:

We don’t want to see Victoria become the state no one wants to invest in and with additional taxes for the property sector, that’s where we’re heading … and that the taxes are an ‘assault on property owners’.

The Victorian Executive Director of the Property Council of Australia said

This is a greedy tax hike on the industry that is building Victoria’s recovery.

And further:

The Victorian Government has given itself a massive 13 per cent pay rise this year thanks to increased property taxes and new taxes on families, jobs and investment.…

Victorians pay more than 50 per cent of the government’s tax revenue through property, and with massive hikes on land tax, stamp duty, and investment in new projects, these taxes are anything but fair.

The broad assessment of the private sector and industry is disturbing, with assessments like ‘danger’, ‘harm’, ‘very real threat’, ‘crippling’, ‘greedy’ and ‘damaging’. These words have not been used lightly.

Peak industry groups in Victoria and indeed Australia have assessed that Labor’s tax attack will cause serious harm to our State and our nation. Victorians need to know that this Labor Government is a sovereign risk. Labor is a sovereign risk. Victorians can feel confident in one thing: by contrast to this Labor government, taxes will always be lower under a Liberal government. Our side of the Chamber has already committed to do that. Our side of the—

Mr Dimopoulos: On a point of order, Speaker, the member has been in this place long enough to know that he should not be reading his speeches word for word, line for line, page for page.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Carbines): Well, I would ask the member for Brighton: is he referring to notes?

Mr NEWBURY: Referring to notes.

A Member: What a childish interjection.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Carbines): Well, I will rule on the interjection. What I would say is that the Member for Brighton has advised the House that he is referring to notes, and I will allow the Member for Brighton to continue on that basis.

Mr NEWBURY: Our side of the Chamber has committed to scrap Labor’s stamp duty tax hike on the family home. Again, a Liberal Government will scrap Labor’s stamp duty hike, because we know that Labor’s new stamp duty tax will make home ownership and rents less affordable. Unlike Labor, if you are a Victorian homeowner, we will back you.

And if you are a job creator in Victoria, know that we will back you too. Under a Liberal Government, businesses will not pay a cent of payroll tax until their wages is bill is greater than $1.6 million. That will mean 15,000 Victorian small businesses will be removed from the payroll tax system. The policy will mean a saving of up to $43,650 on payroll tax for small business. Again, a Liberal government will cut Labor’s payroll tax impost because we know that payroll tax is a tax on jobs.

There is a stark difference between the visions offered by each side of the Chamber. The Liberal Party believe that if you have a go, we will back you. By contrast, Labor wants to attack homeowners and job creators with new taxes— a tax attack—and at the same time this Parliament is debating Labor’s Bill to thrash people with new taxes, to attack people with new taxes with a dangerous Budget.

The Government outside this Chamber is debating shutting down the State. You could not have a more perverse, disgraceful display of a Government that has no concept of the private sector. You attack them, we will back them.