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Howard kills industry fear

PRIME Minister John Howard has killed the property industry’s fear the Government was re-considering its promise to scrap stamp duty on commercial property transactions.

Stamp duty can add considerable cost to commercial property transactions.

Property Council of Australia chief executive officer Peter Verwer welcomed Mr Howard’s pledge at a recent industry function to remove the tax “as soon as possible”.

Mr Howard was responding to a question on the issue from the audience at a Property Council lunch in Melbourne.

“We are breathing a lot easier following the Prime Minister’s commitment in front of more than 900 guests to scrap this insidious tax,” Mr Verwer said.

“The property sector was gravely concerned the Govern-ment would sacrifice their previous commitment to rid the industry of stamp duty after the GST agreement with the Democrats.

“There are winners and losers following any political any political deal between two opposing parties, which fuelled speculation the Government may have traded-off their previous promise.

“The complexities of the negotiations meant we were concerned that stamp duty was one item on the chopping block.”

Mr Verwer said the Prime Minister’s presence at the lunch was a significant coup for the Property Council given it was his first speech to business since the Ralph Report was handed to the Government on Monday.

“The stamp duty promise tops off a good month for the Property Council which has seen our national President Carol Schwartz appointed to the Government’s influential tax advisory board.”

Ms Schwartz will be able to give the Property Council’s view on issues such as property trusts, wholesale funds and sub trusts and accelerated depreciation.

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