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.