Matters of Public Importance
06 March 2019
I rise to speak on a matter of great importance to the Victorian community and in doing so wish to acknowledge the magnificent contributions—outstanding contributions, indeed—by my colleagues, the members for Ripon, Euroa, Forest Hill and Ferntree Gully.
Economic security and fiscal responsibility are indeed matters of great importance for the Victorian people, because what we are talking about is the responsible and appropriate use of the Victorian people’s taxes for the strength and the future prosperity of our great state.
The motion being considered, moved by the member for Ripon, covers four significant areas that highlight the consequences of Labor’s financial mismanagement in this state. When it comes to assessing which is the highest taxed state in Australia, the facts simply speak for themselves.
What I would like to do is simply outline just a few examples of this.
Payroll tax: Of all Australian states which calculate payroll tax on a marginal basis, Victoria has the lowest tax-free threshold, $625 000. This compares to New South Wales, where the first $750 000 is exempt; Tasmania, where the first $1.25 million is exempt; and the ACT, where the first $2 million is exempt.
Land Tax: Victoria has the lowest tax-free threshold of all mainland states in Australia: $250 000. Stamp duty bills in Victoria have risen from 1.9 per cent to 5.2 per cent of the median dwelling price since 1982. This growth in tax burden is three times the rate of house price increases in that 35-year period. Compare that to New South Wales, which moved from 1.6 per cent to 3.8 per cent of median dwelling price over that same period.
Motor vehicle registration: Of all Australian states, Victoria has the highest registration fees. This tax, on a new or used vehicle valued at $25 000, would be $750 in New South Wales, Queensland or Tasmania; and $940 in South Australia, but in Victoria, it is $1050.
I am reminded of that eloquent Regan phrase: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidise it. This, of course, is the Labor way.
There are two questions, which come to mind when outlining this tax burden on Victorians.
How is being the highest taxed state in Australia fair? And how is being the highest taxed state in Australia equitable?
I was concerned to read the comments of the Treasurer on the eve of the last state election.
In the Australian newspaper, in an article titled ‘Debt to double and Pallas says kids will pay’, Mr Pallas is quoted at length:
‘By spreading the cost over more than a decade, it means we share the cost of the infrastructure across generations,’ he said.
‘We pay some, and our kids, who’ll be the principal beneficiaries of these investments, will also make a contribution to the projects that are so vitally important to the continued economic resurgence of this state.’
Let us just think about that for a moment.
What we are actually talking about is intergenerational theft.
Under this Labor government, Victoria’s net debt would increase from 6 per cent to 12 per cent of gross state product as the government borrows billions over the next decade.
The Parliamentary Budget Office post-election report showed that the growth in net debt to 30 June 2022 alone would increase by more than 72 per cent, reaching a massive $38.8 billion.
When did it become okay to saddle the next generation with the additional $25.6 billion in borrowing anticipated to be incurred during the term of this government?
Arguably, Labor plans to increase debt because of incompetence with managing major projects, which leads to massive cost overruns, leading to a greater reliance on tax revenue and the need for the state to borrow beyond its means.
So what does this mean for every Victorian household? This is equivalent to an additional $24 000 in debt per household. All of this is when the Treasurer has previously undertaken to keep debt below $3 billion, or 6 per cent of gross state product.
Again I ask the question: for a government that says it is all about fairness, all about being fair, how is saddling future generations with massive debt equitable or fair? Because of course Labor want to borrow more money, because that is what they do when they cannot manage the money that they have.
Under the Premier to date, as previous speakers on this side have addressed, there has been more than $25 billion in waste and cost blowouts, including the West Gate Tunnel, blown out by $6.2 billion; the Metro Tunnel, $2.07 billion; level crossing removals, $3.3 billion; north-east link, $11.5 billion; and the Victorian Heart Hospital, $393 million; and so it keeps on going, and going and going.
The Frankston station upgrade has a blowout of $11.8 million. This is a total blowout of $25 billion.
The question comes to mind: ‘What is $25 billion between this Labor government, who cannot manage the Treasury benches and their labour union mates?’.
Well, this is what $25 billion could have bought:
- 25 Royal Children’s Hospitals
- 125 000 new ambulances
- 926 secondary schools
- 2083 primary schools
- 1136 special development schools.
It could have paid for a new outpatient clinic at the Sandringham Hospital.
It could have paid for the urgent rebuilding work required at Sandringham College and Mentone Girls’ Secondary College in my electorate.
It could have paid for the redevelopment of new netball facilities for the Sandringham District Netball Association or a new electronic scoreboard for the Cheltenham Football Netball Club.
It could have paid for a second shift of protective services officers at Mentone station to keep the more than 5000 students and other users of that precinct safe.
It could have paid for the development of the Marine Education Science and Community Centre at Ricketts Point in my electorate.
This wasted $25 billion could have set up my community, including the suburbs of Sandringham, Black Rock, Beaumaris, Cheltenham, Highett, Mentone and Hampton, with the vital infrastructure it needs for the next generation.
In the time I have left I wish to address Victorian families, who are facing record electricity disconnections.
This worthy motion mentions that Victorian families are indeed facing record electricity disconnections. In the 2017–18 financial year more than 1000 households a week were disconnected from electricity and gas due to payment arrears. More than 60 000 customers have been affected in this way in total. This is a 21 per cent increase in the number of disconnections per year. In the same time, according to the Essential Services Commission, power prices jumped 16 per cent—my goodness!—the biggest annual increase since 2014–15.
The number of consumers in hardship repayment programs rose by a whopping 25 per cent in the last financial year, now numbering more than 100 000 consumers in total.
As I said in my maiden speech in this place, just as families are expected to live within their means, so should governments be.
We must not be reckless with our spending.
We must not mortgage my daughter’s and her children’s future.
The Andrews Labor government’s attitude to economic security and fiscal responsibility is not fair, and it is certainly not equitable.
It is reckless, it is irresponsible and it is arrogant.
I commend to this house the condemnation of the financial management by the Andrews Labor government.