Tuesday, 3 May 2016
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer to his two previous answers in which he indicated that his model for value capture would apply to existing properties. Will he rule out increased taxes and charges for existing property owners as a result of his value-capture model?
The honourable member, as he knows very well, has misrepresented what I said. I made it quite clear that the federal government does not have the means to impose taxes on land of the kind that he describes. His reference to existing property is quite unclear, because all property—all of the real estate in Australia—is in existence. Some of it, plainly, is in greater stages of development than others. Perhaps, when he asks his next question, he can explain what he means by existing property.
All of the property, all of the real estate and all of the acreage in Australia is in existence. Some of its value can be dramatically improved by the construction of infrastructure, and some of that value—it may be value occasioned by the increase in land taxes; it may be the value created, as I said, in the Gold Coast Light Rail from council rates—can be brought to bear to support infrastructure. The honourable member understands this very well.
This rather pathetic gotcher effort, or would-be-gotcher effort, is simply a demonstration of his determination to avoid scrutiny of that which nobody can avoid—the $20 billion black hole on the tobacco tax. I know that the honourable member and his colleagues regard it as a rounding error. We have been very unkind—or not unkind; we have been critical of them calling it a rounding error. But of course, when you think of the scale of Labor's spending, and when you consider—
Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I almost do not need to say what it is on, Mr Speaker, but it is relevance. There is a very clear question which the Property Council of Australia and other people in the sector involved in urban policy want to know about. They want clarification of the policy that he announced last Friday.
As I have said previously, the Prime Minister and, indeed, the Leader of the Opposition have extra tolerance from the chair; that is my practice. The Prime Minister can compare and contrast, and he certainly has been on the subject of the question until recently. He is entitled to compare and contrast, but I am sure he will bring himself back to the detail of the question before he concludes.
The honourable member understands very well that the construction of infrastructure can, and very often does, add considerable value to real estate, and that value can be captured to support the cost of the construction of the real estate in many ways, and there are many options for doing that, some of which, as I said earlier, involve the party constructing the railway, for example—and I refer to some of the proposals the member for Bennelong has been an enthusiastic advocate for—owning that real estate and developing it themselves. There are many different models that have been practised in Australia but especially around the world. It is an important issue which is a matter of discussion in the urban planning universe, if you like, and is one where you need collaboration between landowners, developers, state government and local government. That is the importance of the city deals: rather than trying to imagine all wisdom resides in Canberra, having genuine collaboration.