THREE of Western Australia’s main property organisations have joined to form a body aimed at removing what they call the erosion of private property rights.
Called the Coalition for Property Rights and made up of the Property Council of Australia, The Real Estate Institute of Western Australia and The Urban Development Institute of Australia, it is fighting against Government legislation that restricts the rights of Western Australians who own property.
The coalition said: “The State Government is restricting the rights of Australians who do own property by using policy and legislation to limit the ways that you can use it (sometimes so severely that the property is rendered worthless) or by making laws or policies which allow the Government to take or resume land without properly compensating landowners for their losses.”
The coalition highlighted several areas where they felt private property rights had been eroded, including legislation in relation to compulsory acquisition, the restriction of property rights to the extent that land is rendered worthless, the ability for land to be taken through the subdivision process, an exponential increase in planning legislation and an increase in property taxes.
Minister for Planning and Infrastructure Alannah MacTiernan told WA Business News most of the Coalition’s assertions had “very little substance”.
“WA has an existing legislative scheme that provides for market value and additional compensation for compulsory acquisition that provides justice for those whose land holdings are affected by infrastructure.”
Ms MacTiernan said it was important, in the case of resumptions, that the Government paid market value, but not for the speculative ambitions of property developers.
Home Party secretary Malcolm Mummer, which anticipates having enough members to register as a political party within a month, said the Government had lost touch with business.
“The Government no longer appreciates that individual property rights are what business is built on,” he said.
“ It is also important to keep in mind that problems such as heritage law are effectively caused by the same group of people who are now trying to do something about it.”
The day after the Coalition announced its formation, which heavily attacked stamp duty rates, New South Wales Premier Bob Carr announced a 2.25 per cent tax for the sale of investment properties and an increase in annual land tax.
Property Council executive director Joe Lenzo cautioned the WA Government against paralleling this move, saying that NSW would suffer the consequences of investment floating to other States because of Carr’s mistake.
“Queensland is laughing because they are going to reap the benefits of this,” he said.
The WA Government is also in the midst of examining the difference between real estate agents fees and property stamp duty.
REIWA president Jim Hennebury said real estate agent fees had gone up 23 per cent since 1998, whereas stamp duty had risen 148 per cent over the same period.
“Affordability of houses is not affected by agents fees as they are incurred by sellers, not buyers and agents are voluntary, not compulsory,” he said.
Stamp duty represents 42 per cent of total State tax revenue excluding money from Federal sources and royalties.
Ms MacTiernan said the budget in relation to property taxes was being reviewed and that hopefully changed financial circumstances of the Government would enable tax rates to be decreased.
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