NSW Premier Baird passes the Elixir bottle without taking a swig


NSW Finance Minister Dominic Perrottet floated the idea of exchanging Stamp Duty for State Land Tax in The Australian yesterday. We warmly welcomed his initiative and explained some of the big benefits this offered NSW.

By 5.30pm yesterday, Philip Coorey had the Premier’s rebuttal up in the AFR, saying he had no intention of making the change.

Mr Baird first rejected the proposal when he was state treasurer and Wayne Swan recommended the states adopt the land tax proposal as an alternative to seeking a GST increase.

“NSW has shown it is prepared, on every level, to consider all measures but ultimately, at the moment, that idea of taking away stamp duty and putting in a land tax – that’s not a consideration,” Mr Baird said.

A pity. The citizens of New South Wales lose.

Voters are given a raw deal by the states’ dud tax regime and we know it.

Baird’s inaction puts wealthy landholder interests ahead of the common good, the considered and insistent advice of the NSW Treasury and the federal Treasury, and all independent economists worth their salt.

Governments in Australia consistently underestimate voters’ appetite for sound reform. They pretend to perform political calculus around what can be realistically achieved with a good margin of error – and sell us all short.

Even Scott Morrison, known as the Treasurer for the Property Council of Australia, wants change:

“Reducing reliance on stamp duties would help first home buyers and improve the efficiency of housing markets over time.

“I welcome the fact that in NSW they’re looking at issues which would rebalance their tax base which…would improve housing affordability in that state. That’s the sort of discussion I was hoping to initiate with my speech earlier this week.”

Just because existing holders paid with blood under a dud tax regime is no excuse to resist reform. Australia needs a better future, not conformity to a bad past.

1 Comment

  1. david singer27-10-2016

    Baird stubbornly continues to stick with his 2013 policy of rejecting the abolition of stamp duties – immediately after his Finance Minister floated it again just two days ago.

    Stunning stuff.

    He is besotted with billions of stamp duty revenue and land tax now flowing into the state coffers as property prices increse.

    He continues to ignore what happens when prices drop as they did between 2007-2012 when I presented him with a Table showing NSW could have collected an extra $4.55 billion had my proposal been adopted.

    Reminds me of his pig headedness in initially refusing to reverse his insane policy on greyhounds.

    He ignores the inestimable benefits to the economy of abolishing stamp duty trotted out by experts everywhere.

    Once again Baird knows best.

    A litttle humility that saw Baird direct the Treasury to look at modelling a scheme that could see the possble abolition of Stamp Duty would have been a far more appropriate decision – back in 2013 when he showed me the front door – and in 2016 when he seriously embrrassed Dominic Perrottet.

    I wonder if Luke Foley is prepared to take front stage again and say he would support any proposals to abolish stamp duty being modelled and evaluated by Treasury.

    Nothing to lose but a lot to gain.


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