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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 05 Hansard (Tuesday, 8 May 2018) . . Page.. 1562 ..


evidence to back up his claims that this will help the housing and rental affordability crisis faced by so many Canberrans. It is appalling that the Treasurer and his office places no priority on having an informed public debate and on informing legislators on these important issues. The Canberra Liberals do not support these changes and again call on the Labor-Greens government to stop this destructive tax hike.

MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (12.29): I am rising today to outline the Greens’ support for the Land Tax Amendment Bill. As has already been said in the opening remarks about it, this bill has two parts. The first is the extension of land tax to more residential dwellings that are not the owner’s principal place of residence. The primary change here is the taxation of vacant dwellings, given that rented dwellings are already paying land tax. The second is the introduction of a land tax surcharge for residential properties in foreign ownership, in line with other states that have recently introduced extra stamp duty for foreign-owned properties. The Greens will be supporting both parts of this bill, but I will focus my comments on the first part, because it is a result of a private member’s motion that I put up in March 2017.

I will first respond to some of the comments of Mr Coe, who directed quite a bit of his comments to the quantity of revenue and the spending of the government. I agree that those are important issues, but they are not important issues for this. This is about the fairness of how we tax, of how we raise revenue. It is not about the total quantum of revenue that is gained by the government. That is another important issue, which we will be discussing, I am sure, at great length, come the budget. I would point out that the rest of Australia does this. This is not something new. There are Liberal states throughout Australia where they charge land tax on vacant properties. That is the norm in Australia rather than the exception.

I also think that Mr Coe must be a bit confused about what this actually does, because he said that the tenants were going to end up paying for it. That is the whole point, Mr Coe. There are not any tenants. If there were tenants, they would have been paying land tax. What we are arguing about here is having a perverse disincentive to rent your house out: if you rent your house out, you have to pay land tax under the current regime; if you do not, you do not have to pay land tax. We are trying to get rid of the perverse disincentive and say that if it is not owner-occupied or subject to a number of other exemptions, such as for charities et cetera, you would pay land tax. I think it is a fairly simple concept, and it is one that the rest of Australia has had for a very long time.

Going to housing affordability, Mr Coe is quite correct: this is one of the reasons—with general fairness, the principal reason—why we think that this taxation change is good. Members may get sick of me talking about housing affordability, because it is one of the ACT’s bigger issues and I will be talking about it tomorrow.

Canberra’s rental market is grim—that is the only word for it—for low income people. Members will recall me talking about Anglicare’s 2017 rental affordability snapshot in the last sitting period. At that time, in April 2017, Anglicare found that there were 1,280 private rentals available in the Canberra and ACT district. If you use the normal definition of affordable rent, which is less than 30 per cent of your income, only 29 of those dwellings were affordable for a couple with both adults working and receiving


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