20 May 2021

Budget will put brakes on Victoria's economic recovery

Liberal Democrats Member for Northern Victoria Tim Quilty has condemned the Victorian Budget, calling it “a grab for cash by a desperate Treasurer”.

Mr Quilty said he was “incredulous” when he learned of the Treasurer’s plans to increase a raft of taxes on businesses and property owners, in a bid to rebalance the Government’s ledger.

“The Government have been spending like the proverbial drunken sailors for the last 15 months, but rather than cut back on the outflow, they decided to mug Victorian businesses and property owners so they can continue the binge,” Mr Quilty said.

“Tim Pallas is completely out of touch with the current economic climate and it is disappointing to see the classic Labor strategy of taxing people who he thinks are an easy target – it’s tall poppy economics at its very worst.

“While I accept the need to improve the basket case of Victorian mental health services, his $3.8 billion payroll tax surcharge will only put the brakes on economic recovery.

“I spoke in Parliament about the need to eliminate payroll tax because it is a disincentive to business growth – it is a tax on wages which is eventually passed on to customers.

“Mr Pallas did get some of my message because he is giving businesses a bonus for hiring new workers, but this will be more than drowned out by the 0.5 per cent levy on businesses with a national payroll greater than $10 million.”

Mr Quilty condemned the announcement of an increase in property taxes, with a $2.4 billion projected windfall from stamp duty on properties worth more than $2 million.

“The Victorian Government just want to get their snout even further into the trough being filled by struggling Victorian home buyers,” Mr Quilty said.

“There is already enough upward property pressure and this is having an effect on regional Victoria, with many renters being unable to afford to find anywhere to live.

“This is having a catastrophic effect on regional businesses because people can’t afford to relocate for a new job and so employers cannot find staff.”

Already a strong critic of revenue derived from fines, Mr Quilty predicted an onslaught of police activity to boost the coffers.

“It is a complete nonsense to predict revenue from fines, but here we have a forecast of a rise from $428 million this year to $608 million,” Mr Quilty said.

“Given that fines are supposed to be a deterrent, we can only assume police will be ordered to increase their hit rate on the long-suffering Victorian public.”

Mr Quilty suggested the Government look at its own performance, after data was released showing 117 major projects each worth more than $100 million – of which almost literally every one is in Melbourne - had blown out by $3.8 billion.

“If the Andrews Government could keep better control over its Melbourne vote-buying infrastructure projects, we would have the mental health services improvement without any additional taxes,” Mr Quilty said.

“On top of that, an additional $3.6 billion has been blown on the 1141 smaller infrastructure projects which have gone rogue.

“This is $7.4 billion of wasted public money, funds which could be put to good use elsewhere without any additional tax slugs on Victorians.

“The alternative explanation is that the original cost projections were woefully undervalued.

“Either way, this blowout proves the Andrews Government can’t be trusted with a garage sale budget, let alone a state economy.”