Page 894 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 2 April 2008

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a one-horse race, and that race is the property market. All of this is critical to the issue of the impacts on the price of housing.

What has the Stanhope government done over the past seven years with respect to revenue raising that has had an impact on the cost of housing? It has raised existing taxes and introduced new taxes. I mention the utilities tax, the fire and emergency services tax and the increases in land tax. Some of us will recall that the Stanhope government introduced a new tax as part of its housing affordability package. Under the guise of “a duty deferral proposal”, the Stanhope government introduced a measure by which eligible households can defer the payment of conveyancing stamp duty. This deferred duty attracts interest and increases the costs that have to be met when buying a house. In reality, this interest on conveyancing stamp duty is a tax on a tax—and it is the worst kind of tax. It is also an inefficient tax.

The Stanhope government’s record on taxing the community is pathetic. The parameters of that tax policy were put eloquently by the former Treasurer Ted Quinlan when he told the real estate industry in March 2005 that the Stanhope government would squeeze investors until they bled but not until they died. This government, the Stanhope government, has had a very simple approach to fiscal policy. On the revenue side, it is—in true traditional Labor Party fashion—to jack up taxes as far as they will go.

Last Saturday in the Canberra Times, Crispin Hull commented on land tax and what has happened in the ACT over the last decade. Mr Hull is a landlord and he was citing his own examples; he has gone back to his records. He said:

In 1993-94, rates on my rental property were $297 and the land tax was not much more at $325.

Last financial year the rates were $1841 and the land tax was $4282.

So over the 13 years, rates had gone up 520 per cent. And land tax 1375 per cent.

In comparison, inflation in that time had gone up by a mere 38 per cent and average weekly earnings by 91 per cent.

We have Mr Corbell talking about greedy landlords. Who is greedy here? Let us face it. For the “greedy landlord”, it went up from $9,199 to $17,112 in the same period, an increase of 86 per cent, something above inflation but less than the average weekly earnings. Who is being greedy here? Mr Hull went on to say:

So, who is being greedy, or at best fiscally irresponsible, Attorney-General Corbell? The landlord whose rent goes up 86 per cent over 13 years, or the Government that puts up land tax by 1375 per cent in the same period? And this is leaving aside the ACT Government’s new utilities levy and insurance levy.

What is happening here?

The reality is that we have a minister—whether it be the Treasurer or a minister responsible for land release—who is simply relying on one stream. The Stanhope

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