State Taxation Acts Further Amendment Bill 2016

27 October 2016

Ms GRALEY (Narre Warren South) — I would just like to advise the member opposite who has just spoken —

Ms Thomas interjected.

Ms GRALEY — the member for Forest Hill, I have just been told — that what we are doing on this side of the house and what the Andrews Labor government is about is investing in Victoria’s future. I would like to just make him aware that we are investing not only in Victoria’s future but in Victoria’s people, and especially those people who are doing it tough, I have got to say. The reason we are doing this is to make sure that Victorians have jobs. The thing that we can say very clearly in this house is that this government is committed to providing Victorians with the best opportunity to get a job, and I have got to say it comes in many shapes and forms.

I will get to the bill in a minute, but I would just like to put on the record, for the member for Forest Hill to see, that under this government we are building 42 new schools, 27 of which are in the outer suburban growth areas. And he is leaving the chamber as we speak because, I suggest, he does not want to hear this. We all know that not one new school opened in Victoria this year — not one new school — so the contrast between this government’s investment in Victoria’s future, the provision of jobs through the investment in infrastructure, is in very stark contrast to the government that preceded us.

I would also like to put on the record that this bill does not introduce any new revenue measures, and that is mainly due to the fact that that was not the intent of the bill. The second thing is, we have a really strong financial context for this government to operate in. We have a strong budgetary position. If you look at the Australian Financial Review just last week, it outlines that Victoria has recorded a strong $2.7 billion surplus, and this is $776 million higher than the revised budget estimates as published. Not only are we spending in the right way but we are also making sure that we are doing this in a very responsible manner by having these significant surpluses. Those opposite are fond of giving us lectures, and a lot of them are ex-accountants or ex-small business people — some of them failed accountants, some of them failed ex-business people — —

Ms Thomas — Franchisees.

Ms GRALEY — Yes, franchisees, I remember that too. They are giving us a lecture on where Victoria finds itself, but this government has managed to produce a very strong budget for us to go forward so that we can have this investment.

I would like to return to the details of the bill. As we are aware, this bill makes amendments to update and clarify Victoria’s taxation and land valuation laws. Basically what it is about is making it easier for Victorians to comply with their taxation obligations, and that means making sure that things are consistent, even and occur at the same time.

The aspect of the bill that I really want to concentrate on is the matters referring to the growth areas infrastructure contribution (GAIC). I heard some criticism from those opposite. I reiterate that they did not do much in the outer suburbs during their time, but they did introduce the GAIC, but they could not even manage to get that right, actually. The GAIC is a very important revenue raiser, and from where I sit as a member for an electorate in the outer suburbs, it is very important that these sorts of moneys are collected as soon as possible for the infrastructure that is so obviously craved by the people who are building their dreams homes in the outer suburbs, sending their kids to the new schools that we are catching up on building and driving their cars to work every day. We need roads, we need schools and we need transport infrastructure.

This bill actually talks about making sure that happens in a much clearer, a much more consistent and a much easier way. It gives clarity to the development industry, it gives clarity to local government and it gives clarity to government departments. In other words, it is a win-win because people know how much money they have to collect and give up, and they also know that it is going to be spent in a very worthwhile and focused way.

Under the new provisions, a landowner who subdivides land for public purposes will be required to pay the GAIC attributable to the public purpose land up-front. I have had certain situations in my electorate and its environs where people actually thought they were getting a train station or they thought they were getting a railway crossing of some description. They actually thought the developer had sold their house and land package to them on the basis that that sort of infrastructure would be provided through a developer levy at that time. That piece of infrastructure was not delivered by the council or the government at the time, and what ensued was a really nasty little spat between government, local government, developers and the community. It was quite an unedifying little episode, and it taught me, at that time, that there had to be extra clarity around the collection of both developer levies and, in 2010 when the GAIC was introduced, the need for greater clarity and accountability for the GAIC.

I would like to say that the GAIC is not going to provide all the infrastructure that is required in the outer suburbs. There is an enormous demand for new roads, new schools, extensions to hospitals and the provision of community buildings. I would like to put on the record again my commendation of the government for its investment in not only building new schools but in also innovating. The Outer-Suburban Growth Fund and the Shared Facilities Fund are opportunities for local government, schools, community groups and other organisations like basketball associations and football clubs to get together and apply for facilities that the community not only needs but that it will also have some say in creating and making sure that they are fit for purpose.

I commend this bill to the house. As I have said, it is a necessary bill in order to provide precision and clarity. I note that this bill makes changes to the Land Tax Act 2005, which will be amended to align the relevant date for valuations of all types of land and to correct the land tax rate table for an absentee trust. I know from experiences in my electorate office that people often come in to see me regarding issues around land tax and when and where they are payable and why some amounts are different. ‘How can I get it reduced?’ is usually the main question I am asked. I have had some very constructive conversations with the State Revenue Office about that over time. I am pleased to see that this significant problem has been addressed through these changes.

The bill also makes changes to the Payroll Tax Act 2007, which will be amended to update the payroll tax exemption for motor vehicle allowances to align with commonwealth income tax legislation. As I said, that is also an important addition to this bill. Without further ado I would like to commend the Treasurer on doing a fantastic job of managing the Victorian economy, giving everyone in Victoria many more and better opportunities to live a better life, especially in the outer suburbs, through the provision of a really important infrastructure investment program that will be an investment in the future of all Victorians.