Peter Gutwein has courted controversy again by announcing proposed cuts to land tax in lutruwita/Tasmania. While the Premier claimed that the cuts would see savings passed onto tenants, the plans have been challenged as yet another handout from this government to the propertied class.
Announced in the lead up to the Premier’s State of the State address, the cuts would see land tax not paid on properties valued under $100,000, with the upper tax threshold being lifted to $500,000. The tax rate for properties between $100,000 to $500,000 would also be reduced from 0.55% to 0.45%. Government projections estimate that the changes will gift $220 million in tax relief to landowners over the next four years, with Gutwein asserting that this will provide downward pressure on rent prices.
The Premier’s claim, however, has been already disproven.
The new changes to land tax follow those made by the Liberals last year, which doubled the value at which tax must be paid on properties from $25,000 to $50,000, also raising the top tax threshold to $400,000. Since last year’s changes were implemented, far from providing relief for tenants, rent prices have skyrocketed by 9% in the south, 10% in northwest and 15% in the state’s north.
Gutwein’s latest handout also comes amid lutruwita/Tasmania’s ongoing housing crisis. According to a recent report by SGS Economics and Planning, nipaluna/Hobart is far and away the least affordable capital city in Australia. It also found that nipaluna/Hobart is the only capital city in Australia where the average household is under rental stress, with the median resident paying more than 30% of their total income towards rent.
Opposition parties have slammed the Premier’s new changes to land tax. Labor’s Ella Haddad described the plan as a win for landlords, with no guarantee in place that savings will be passed onto tenants. Leader of the Greens Cassy O’Connor was equally critical, disputing the Premier’s ‘ridiculous and dishonest’ claim that the changes would provide downward pressure on rent prices. O’Connor also pointed out that hundreds of millions in tax revenue would be lost that could otherwise have gone towards increasing the supply of affordable housing.
Activist groups have also challenged the Premier’s plans. Sarah Charlotte is the Vice-President of the Housing Alliance lutruwita/Tasmania, a collective of renters, homeowners and displaced individuals that advocate for housing to be a human right. Charlotte described the move as a ‘suck-up to the property industry’, claiming it showed that ‘the Liberal Party only cares about the rich and [that] they don’t care about anyone who’s struggling’. The Housing Alliance has started a petition to lobby Tasmanian lawmakers to properly address the state’s housing a crisis, a feature of which includes capping rent prices at 30% of weekly income.
As of last year, the average wait time for priority applicants on the public housing waiting list in lutruwita/Tasmania was 56 weeks.