Second Reading (Council amendments) State Taxation Acts Amendment Bill 2017

This bill is absolutely nothing to be proud of. It is a bill that once again writes into law raised taxes, when the Premier promised the people of Victoria, before he was elected, that he would not — I repeat, he would not — raise taxes. Yet what we see in this bill are four new taxes, taxes that will hurt Victorians. This is a money-grabbing exercise.

Already we have seen the sale of the lease of the port of Melbourne, which gave us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change Victoria and make sure we got infrastructure investments, so there was money for the government to make changes. But, no, the opportunity was just too good to see how the government could hurt Victorians, particularly people from South-West Coast — country Victorians. That is where I am most disappointed. I cannot understand the upper house people who could have turned this down — the Sex Party, the Labor Party and the Greens, but mostly my disappointment sits with the Independent member from Western Victoria Region, James Purcell from Vote 1 Local Jobs. I cannot believe what he has done to country Victorians, but he has done it before. We have seen it before. Last year when he knew full well how dependent on energy the dairy industry in particular is — the largest economic contributor to South-West Coast — he knew that energy-intensive industry needed good, reliable, cheap, affordable power. Yet with that on board he helped put a $250 000 tax on Engie.

You can tell me all you like that Engie was making the decision, but if you give somebody a whopping great tax bill like that, you are sending them a clear message that they are not welcome to do business in this state. That is what that vote from James Purcell, Vote 1 Local Jobs, did. When Engie left, it left because it had got a clear message from this state that it was not welcome. So how many jobs has that created? I do not think it has created any. In fact I think it has lost a lot of jobs, and they are not just in Hazelwood and Gippsland. That reverberates right through the state and particularly into South-West Coast. The dairy industry is one of the biggest contributors out of the port of Melbourne. It is actually the largest exporter out of the port of Melbourne. I know Mr Purcell knows the value of that to south-western Victorians, and the cost of power is up 300 per cent for some of the dairy farmers who are renegotiating their power contracts as we speak. That is a direct result of that tax imposed on Engie.

This tax is also going to affect people in the country who are wanting to buy a new car. We will see the cost of that increase from this tax. It will be harder to transfer from an older car because the cost will be greater, and we know that will result in more accidents because older cars are as safe. We already have a situation in South-West Coast where the roads are the worst in the state by VicRoads own admission. So not only are we going to have a situation where safety is compromised because our roads are not getting the investment that this government promised prior to being elected. It promised $1 billion towards our roads in country Victoria, yet we are still waiting to see that investment.

What we are seeing instead is a government that cannot show us that what it is investing in is actually getting a return. It has no accountability system in place, and that is what the Auditor-General showed us with the report tabled today. We saw that not only was there no accountability system, there was no system to know whether a standard was able to be achieved. I see examples of that all the time in my electorate, where my constituents tell me about potholes that have been fixed over and over again, often in a matter of days.

The road in Heathmere that I went to see the other day has been fixed four times — I repeat, four times — in the last three months. Is this good use of the taxation dollar that Victorians are getting slugged, higher and higher — four times in this particular bill? Is it a good example of that money? I do not think so. It is just throwing good money after bad.

I fail to understand why it is reasonable to tax people for the property that they have chosen to buy but not live in for however long they choose to. If they leave it vacant for six months, they will be taxed. In a country where you are free to purchase your own assets if you have worked hard and you can afford to, who has the right to tell you how often you can live in them and to tax you if you do not? It is the most socialist approach I have ever come across — no, there are plenty of them we could use as examples, are there not? It is just one of many, many socialist behaviours that we are seeing. But I cannot get over this one. You work hard, you make choices and then you are told how your choice is to be determined by the government. What part of the world are we in? I see this as just another broken promise, another discrimination against country Victorians.

Some people work very hard — farmers who get up at the break of day, seven days a week, who care for the landscape and do their duty to make sure that the responsibility entrusted in them is done well — and work so well that they find they can afford a property in Melbourne, and then they are taxed. I do not understand that, but anyway we see so much of it. Why would I understand it?

Then we get to the point about transferring property between spouses and the stamp duty imposed on those transfers. Again we get to be told that we do not have to be equal anymore. Our husbands can take the asset and not share it equally if we come into the marriage later in life. It is just a grubby way of saying, ‘No. We’re not going to support families, yet we talk the talk’. We are not seeing the walk here; we are seeing examples of absolute discrimination against families, particularly in the business world.

My colleague talked about tradies, but there are other businesses as well. When you set up a business — and I know this firsthand — it is a very, very risky thing to do. Not all businesses succeed. I can tell you now that I get so many people in business saying, ‘Do you know what? It’s too hard to do business in this state’. I concur. I know exactly how hard it is to do business here. When you have worked so very, very hard to buy a house or get some assets behind you and you decide to start up a business and take that risk, good on you for having a go and contributing to the state of Victoria by being independent, by not relying on the community to support you. You get in there and you have a go. That is an incentive for people to have a go. But should you really have to risk everything you have previously worked for? That detracts from that incentive, and I think that is where this government is going wrong. They make promises for a start not to raise taxes and not to impose new taxes, and then what do they do? They disincentivise instead of encourage.

Again I am just so bitterly disappointed in the member from south-west Victoria who represents Vote 1 Local Jobs in the Legislative Council. I cannot understand this man who I know comes from the country. He comes from Bessiebelle, which is a strong dairying area. He does not reflect today a man who understands the importance of jobs at all, because I am not seeing any incentives here, I am seeing taxes — and they are vastly different.

On that note, whilst I support the motion because the coalition do not oppose it, I do not support the four new taxes. I think they are a disgrace. I think they are a reflection of a broken promise that now will get written into law. It is a damned shame.