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Pressure on Ripper’s land tax

ANGRY landowners snared by the Gallop Government’s new premium property tax are planning a major public campaign to have the tax scrapped.

And with a federal election looming, the group has warned the large-scale campaign could hurt the electoral prospects of local ALP candidates.

Action groups that sprung up with the announcement of the tax have banded together to form the No Home Tax Committee and this week held the first of several meetings to raise awareness about what it has labelled an unfair and discriminatory tax.

On Tuesday night about 600 people at a meeting at Dalkeith Hall were told a letter writing and advertising campaign was planned. A public rally at Parliament House also was organised for October 16 and political lobbyist Paul Downie was to be employed to further the committee’s cause.

The tax will apply to about 900 properties with an unim-proved land value of more than $1 million.

Owners of these properties will be levied at a rate of 2 per cent each year on the portion of the unimproved land value in excess of $1 million, meaning a property worth $1.5 million would attract an annual tax bill of $10,000.

The top five suburbs affected will be Peppermint Grove, Mosman Park, Applecross, Dalkeith and Claremont.

Committee president Derek Fisher said the group’s first step was to set up a fighting fund that would be used to finance the campaign.

“We are asking people to think very carefully about what the outcome will be for them if the premium property tax comes in,” Mr Fisher said.

“People should be digging deep to fight this … we do not want this tax to see the light of day.”

Mr Fisher said it was a “windfall” for the committee that a federal election was imminent, as it would give them the opportunity to highlight their cause.

“The committee is an apolitical group, we have no allegiance to anyone other than those who will be effected by the premium property tax, but obviously we must target the ALP,” Mr Fisher said.

“We will be targeting marginal federal seats with our campaign and that could do some damage,” he said.

A spokesperson for Treasurer Eric Ripper said hewas not concerned about whether the campaign would have a bearing on the federal election because there were more pressing issues weighing on voters minds.

Mr Ripper has steadfastly refused to back away from the tax, but on Tuesday announced concessions to the premium property tax that would allow asset rich but income poor people to defer paying the tax until their properties were sold or transferred.

Previously, only pensioners and seniors with concession cards could seek to defer the tax.

But this concession has been dismissed by the No Home Tax Committee, which believes the concessions simply mean the tax will be paid at another time. The committee is supported in its fight by the Property Council of WA, which has put together a formal submission to the Treasurer calling for the tax to be dropped.

PCWA president Tony Packer said the tax was fundamentally flawed because it targeted land assets only, but not other assets such as bank accounts, shares and superannuation.

“A tax that genuinely taxed those with the greatest capacity to pay would catch wealthy politicians in the tax net,” he said.

Mr Packer said the Government could afford to scrap the tax, despite its claims the $12.1 it would raise was needed in essential areas such as health and education.

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