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Tuesday, 25 September 2001
Page: 31441

Ms JULIE BISHOP (10:45 PM) —Tonight I raise in this House a matter of grave concern to my electorate and to the many constituents who have contacted me about this matter. Twelve days ago the Labor government in Western Australia handed down the first Labor budget inflicted on our state since 1992. The result was predictable: $100 million worth of new taxes on Western Australian businesses and employers, increases in payroll tax and increases in land tax. But what was not predictable was that Labor would declare war on sections of our community, including senior Western Australians, pensioners and self-funded retirees, not in order to fix a budgetary black hole— the Western Australian budget is in surplus by $25.5 million—but to seek to gain political mileage and as a warning to or punishment of those perceived to be opponents of the state government. The premium property tax is an insidious tax that applies to the unimproved value of Western Australian residential properties.

Mr SPEAKER —The member for Sydney was warned earlier today and will find herself out of the chamber if she does not watch her courtesy.

Ms JULIE BISHOP —It is a tax projected to raise, by the self-admission of the Gallop government, just 0.4 per cent of the total state taxes in 2001-02. Yet, within 20 years, this tax will affect land valued at just $300,000 today, and within one generation it will drag thousands of Western Australian families into a tax trap. It is far from the `millionaires tax' touted by the Premier. The tax threshold, presently set at $1 million, is to be linked to the CPI and not to property values. This is despite the average increase in value of land for the 224 suburbs of Perth being an annual 9.3 per cent, an increase calculated by the Valuer-General's office, compared with the inflation rate of three per cent.

If we extrapolate out those figures, we come to the shocking conclusion that, within almost four years, land worth $800,000 today will be subject to the tax; within six years it will apply to land worth $700,000; and in 12 years, to land worth just $500,000 today. Perversely, the effect of the taxation mechanism introduced by the Gallop government, and the deferral mechanism touted as a stopgap measure, is such that within 40 years the state government will actually have assumed ownership of many residential properties across Perth. Equally perverse is the likely effect of this tax on Western Australia's revenue. The tax will drive Perth's property prices down, actually driving down the state revenue, as has happened in New South Wales. Investors both within and outside of Australia will understandably ask themselves why they should invest in a state where the government uses arbitrary taxation as a political weapon.

My constituents in Curtin are being particularly targeted. It is no secret that the riverfront from Mosman Park to the city is some of the most prized residential land in Australia, and likewise the beachfront from Cottesloe to Scarborough. But there is a deeply cynical streak to this state government tax: had the tax been applied to the assessed value of properties, including the developed value of the land, it would have been a political headache for the Labor government. There would be many homes across the Perth metropolitan area upon which this tax would fall—homes in marginal ALP electorates like Joondalup and Riverton. In specifically applying the tax to the undeveloped value, Labor have sought to inflict this tax on what in their hackneyed opinion are `rusted-on Liberal voters' in seats like Cottesloe and Nedlands and, across the river, in Alfred Cove and South Perth.

It is unbecoming for a government of the great state of Western Australia to specifically target for political purposes so many men and women who have devoted their lives to our state and its development. These are not the cartoon millionaires of state Treasurer Eric Ripper's fevered imagination. They are predominantly our city's senior citizens, pensioners and self-funded retirees, and this attack on them is a cowardly act. They are proud home owners. They have never asked for their middle-class suburbs to become affluent, which is how Labor sees it. They are people who decided not to build luxury homes but just to make a home by the Swan, often just after the Second World War. They are people who now find that they are not rich enough to live on certain streets in certain suburbs and that they will have to move off and sell to someone who can meet the bills of a profligate Labor government.

What is the option offered to these Western Australians by a Premier who announced on state election night that he would `govern for all Western Australians'? Defer payment and go into hock to the state government; live and die in debt to the state, simply for the privilege of living under `New Labor'. This is a lesson for all Australians. Geoff Gallop went to the polls promising the people of Western Australia no new taxes. He promised that Labor had learned its lessons; that it was no longer the party of corruption and ruin. `New Labor' he called it; `Hard Labor' people in Western Australia now call it.

But the story is familiar. Another `New Labor' politician from the West is strumming a familiar refrain around the country. The Leader of the Opposition has learned well from his former protege, the current Premier. The Leader of the Opposition promises that, first and foremost, Labor is about reducing, not increasing, the burden of tax on Australian families. Well, in Western Australia it is not; if it is not turfing workers onto the street it is slugging senior West Australians. (Time expired)