Council’s Amendments

Danny O’BRIEN (Gippsland South) (17:27): I want to start with a statement, and I challenge any of those opposite to discredit it: taxing property does not create any more of it – not a single property. We heard the previous Premier – and I very, very rarely ever agreed with the previous Premier – make the point that getting housing affordability and availability for both private and public renters is all about supply, supply, supply, and taxing property does not create any more of it.

I want to take up the commentary of the member for South Barwon attacking the Liberals – only the Liberals, apparently – for being the friends of the property developer. I am a little bit confused because today the government has done a deal with the Greens; only yesterday in answer to a question from the Greens the Premier sat right there and said, ‘It’s property developers that actually create property, that create homes’. And now they are standing there saying somehow that property developers are evil because they have done a deal with the Greens today. So I am very confused about where the Labor Party stands: is it with the Greens, or is it against them? Is it with the property developers who create homes for Victorians, or is it against them? It is very, very confusing, what they are saying.

There is always a very fine line, when you are in opposition, between opposing bad policy and bad legislation and trying to improve bad policy and bad legislation, and the member for Sandringham I think has struck a good balance with our position on these new amendments. We will support the things that actually will help reduce the burden on property owners, and we will oppose those that simply create more taxes, because taxing property does not create more property. The Leader of the House was standing there yelling at us before: ‘We’re trying to make housing available’. You do not make housing available when you introduce more taxes on it. These taxes being introduced by these amendments today, including the increase from 1 per cent to 2 to 3 per cent of capital improved value, will include the 53rd new or increased tax under this government, and 25 of those are taxes on property. The government seems to somehow think that taxing property is actually going to increase housing availability and affordability. Well, I would like any of them over there to go and do an economics course and understand the reality of supply and demand, particularly as it applies to taxation.

Members opposite have also said that this is only about property developers. Tell that to the couple from Rosedale that contacted me after the budget this year, one of whom is relying on her superannuation and one of whom who has one day of work a week because he lost his job during the pandemic. They have an inherited house on the beach, they do not have a couple of coins to rub together and yet they are now going to be subject to these taxes. Yet the member for South Barwon seems to think that it is simply all about property barons, and I think that you will find there are plenty of Victorians who for various reasons have a second property who are not wealthy, not even remotely wealthy. I am sure the member for South Barwon will be hearing from those in his electorate as well.

I would like just to talk about again the government’s failures on property. The Leader of the Opposition asked this week about Maddy Baker from my electorate in Sale, who has been on the waiting list for three years for public housing. The member for Polwarth raised a question today about Abbas, who has been on the list for 16 years, and I remind those members opposite of the failure so far on public and social housing. In the Gippsland region there are less houses in public and community housing now than there were in 2015 – less houses. Despite the Big Housing Build, there is less public and community housing in Gippsland now than there was in 2015, so this government has failed. It has introduced a windfall gains tax, it has introduced a COVID debt levy and now it is topping up with these additional taxes, which are only going to make the situation worse.

I would add to those that are saying we need to tax the property developers, did the government ever consider, if it wants to get vacant properties back on the market, perhaps an incentive rather than punitive measures? Did it ever consider maybe there was a way that we could say ‘Hey, you’ve had that house unlived in for a period of time, maybe if you put it back on the market, we will give you a rebate on your land tax’? Did the government ever think of something like that? No. The Treasurer just sat there and thought ‘No, I can actually kill two birds with one stone. I can put out a press release that says we’re getting more housing back into the market, and I can rake in a few more dollars cash to try and fix the budget deficit and the debts that this government has got.’

I have not been able to catch the details because of the noise in this place about the deal that has been done with respect to renewable energy, but it sounds like, from what the member for Prahran has said, it is simply another subsidy for the renewable energy sector, so another deal between Labor and the Greens. These amendments are taxing property again: 25 property taxes out of 53 new or increased taxes under this government. I say again, supply is the answer, and taxing property never created any more property.

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