Tuesday 17 November 2009
Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Nobody likes taxes but of course most of us will -
Mr Harriss - Except the Treasurer.
Mr FINCH - Yes, you might be right there - tolerate them if they are fair and equitable, and the community's other criterion for tolerating taxes is that they do not want them to increase dramatically.
I have been dealing with the member for Windermere of late over small business in his community. How can you run a small business without knowing what your tax liabilities are going to be in the coming years within a percentage or two? Times are very tight at this moment, something that struck me when we had the briefing yesterday from the Land Tax 2010 Coalition and they talked about what small business and even the community are dealing with at the moment. We are dealing with water and sewerage, council rates, electricity, interest rates and now here is the land tax issue that is out there in our community. To suddenly have to face a doubling, a tripling and in some cases with recent property value increases like we heard from the member for Nelson, a tenfold increase, and I think it was at the Shipwrights Arms, for some it is just not on.
We also read of increased tax liabilities of 1 000 per cent in some southern municipalities and that, on the surface, just appears manifestly unjust. I was interested to hear the discussion too about the fact that we cannot have a bill on land tax.
Ms Forrest - You just get a land tax bill instead.
Mr FINCH - Yes, a land tax bill instead. Yes, the Treasurer might -
Mr Parkinson - You are in the wrong House.
Mr FINCH - Yes. The Treasurer might apprise me of the situation there. I know that some -
Mr Aird - You are talking about money bills. Money bills can never originate in any upper House anywhere in the Westminster system.
Mr FINCH - Thank you. It is just that the Ombudsman was calling on the State Government about the adjustment of legislation to take account of revaluations.
Mr Parkinson - It is a matter for government.
Mr Aird - He said it was a matter for government.
Mr FINCH - Thanks. The State Government, as we have heard, is expected to collected $90 million in land tax this financial year and that is reported to be an increase of 344 per cent since the 1999-2000 financial year. As we have heard, we do not know exactly what is being collected this financial year because the Government will not tell us, although it is our money.
Mr Dean - Why won't they?
Mr FINCH - As the member for Nelson said, we are shooting in the dark in getting some handle on what is likely to occur there. As we have heard, all will be revealed in the midyear financial statement in February - conveniently just before the March election.
Then the Government will have the opportunity to make adjustments to take account of the revaluations that have occurred in the nine municipalities. Then, of course, we will have more issues when the other municipalities are revalued I think the year after next.
I applaud the member for Windermere for bringing on this debate. I know he was concerned about the time constraints, even concerned yesterday about bringing it on. He was encouraged by other members to proceed with it so I think it is a debate that is worth having.
It is worth discussing at this time for us to be able to send a message to the Government and to the Treasurer - the drums are beating. I think it behoves the Government to listen to what people are saying, and particularly us bringing that message to the Government here in the House. I also heard the Treasurer say about consulting and discussing with the Land Tax 2010 Coalition - he had not had any representations from them.
There is somebody here who has heard that and I am trusting that there will be this group in our community, a high-powered group who are concerned about this specific issue, who will in fact make that appointment with the Treasurer. He has given the indication to them that he will in fact listen and consult and would welcome that discussion and that is what needs to occur.
I think if we go on the way we are - let us say nothing is done - and I have read the signals in the Examiner this morning by the Treasurer, the signal he is giving about listening and about making adjustments. If there is no adjustment I believe there will be a swell of protest towards this Government and by early April next year they will be known as the Tasmanian Government that lost office because of unfair land tax increases.