YOU’RE GUN­NER PAY

Ter­ri­to­ri­ans set to be slugged in big­gest tax shake-up in his­tory

NT News - - FRONT PAGE - ASH­LEY MANICAROS

TER­RI­TO­RI­ANS can ex­pect to pay more tax in the wake of the Gun­ner Gov­ern­ment’s move to pro­tect its $770 mil­lion in rev­enue it col­lects each year.

A dis­cus­sion pa­per re­leased by Trea­surer Ni­cole Mani­son leaves noth­ing off the ta­ble, in­clud­ing in­creased car regis­tra­tion, bank­ing taxes, in­sur­ance taxes, gam­bling taxes and changes to roy­alty struc­tures for the re­sources sec­tor.

Ms Mani­son con­firmed a land tax was also on the radar, de­spite her and Chief Min­is­ter Michael Gun­ner pre­vi­ously rul­ing out its in­tro­duc­tion as re­cently as May’s Bud­get.

The dis­cus­sion pa­per es­ti­mates a land tax could raise $21 mil­lion at a 0.1 per cent rate of tax.

“To not have a broader dis­cus­sion that in­cluded prop­erty taxes ... that would be a Trea­surer stick­ing her head in the sand,” she said. “For a very long time, the North­ern Ter­ri­tory has not had land taxes for very good rea­sons. I think we are ma­ture enough to go out there and have that con­ver­sa­tion.

“We need to have a frank and open dis­cus­sion about where we see re­form into the fu­ture. Not just next year’s bud­get but fu­ture bud­gets.

“Gov­ern­ment has not com­mit­ted to any of these re­forms. It is a gen­uine dis­cus­sion with the com­mu­nity.”

Cham­ber of Com­merce NT chief ex­ec­u­tive Greg Bick­nell said in the cur­rent eco­nomic cli­mate, the re­view sent a se­ri­ous mes­sage.

He said do­ing things like in­creas­ing rego was “play­ing around the edges” and a land tax would hit long-term Ter­ri­to­ri­ans hard.

“Gov­ern­ment has four op­tions open to it,” he said.

“In­crease rev­enue; re­duce ser­vices; win the ar­gu­ment with the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment over GST or de­velop in­dus­try like on­shore shale gas. The re­view says we’ve got some se­ri­ous chal­lenges in front and that is not good for business con­fi­dence.”

Op­po­si­tion Leader Gary Hig­gins slammed the La­bor Gov­ern­ment say­ing to mas­sively in­crease taxes on all Ter­ri­to­ri­ans was lazy.

“At a time when the North­ern Ter­ri­tory needs greater in­vest­ment and job cre­ation, new taxes will only make the sit­u­a­tion harder for fam­i­lies, busi­nesses and em­ploy­ers,” he said.

Prop­erty Coun­cil NT ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Ruth Palmer said the tim­ing of any tax changes were wrong.

“Now is not the time to be mak­ing long-term struc­tural changes to a tax sys­tem due to short-term mar­ket con­di­tions,” she said. “It is also im­por­tant that the gov­ern­ment consider cost-of-liv­ing fac­tors. The in­tro­duc­tion of any form of land tax will in­crease costof-liv­ing pres­sures on all Ter­ri­tory fam­i­lies and hurt in­vest­ment and job cre­ation.”

The Gov­ern­ment has promised a three-month con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod clos­ing in late Fe­bru­ary next year.

“The re­view says we’ve got some se­ri­ous chal­lenges in front and that is not good for business con­fi­dence”

GREG BICK­NELL

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