WA premier brushes off tax reform calls

Western Australia’s premier has ruled out pursuing stamp duty reform amid criticism of the lack of detail in his coronavirus economic recovery plan.

The McGowan government has announced a further $2.7 billion will be spent on kickstarting the economy and rescuing jobs lost during the pandemic.

It adds to almost $2.8 billion in stimulus measures announced in recent months.

The recovery plan unveiled on Sunday identifies 21 priority areas but so far, only three new initiatives have been outlined.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA chief executive Chris Rodwell says it’s a missed opportunity to bolster business confidence.

“While we recognise the state government’s existing assistance to businesses through payroll tax relief, regulatory reform and some targeted spending measures, businesses need clarity on measures that will provide cost relief and further reduce their regulatory burden, in order to have the confidence to invest and create jobs,” he said.

The CCI, along with welfare groups including the WA Council of Social Services, has called for stamp duty to be replaced by a more efficient broad-based land tax.

But Premier Mark McGowan has flatly rejected such a move.

“We’ve estimated that’s up to $8000 per household per year, were we to put that it in place,” he said on Monday.

“I mean, seriously? Do they think that is going to promote anything other than a collapse in consumer confidence?

“I just don’t think they’re reading the play to say that we should do that.”

Opposition leader Liza Harvey has proposed a 75 per cent cut to stamp duty under the Liberals’ economic recovery plan.

About 120,000 jobs are estimated to have been lost in WA since March.

Opposition finance spokesman Steve Thomas accused the government of focusing on publicity ahead of the state election next March.

“Every day is vital for industries facing an uncertain future,” he said.

“It is too important to allow the government to trickle out announcements in coming weeks for greatest political effect.”

The premier on Monday announced a $60 million package to create more than 1000 conservation jobs across the state.

A quarter of the funding has been earmarked for the establishment of a native vegetation rehabilitation scheme.

The government had previously unveiled a $66 million renewable energy plan and $60 million in maintenance work at police and fire stations.

WA on Monday recorded no new virus cases, while the number of active cases has fallen to just two.

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