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The Victorian Division of the Property Council of Australia welcomes the opportunity to have input into the budget planning process leading up to the May 2001 Budget.
Against the background of globalisation and the internationalisation of economies, individual state annual budgets are not the only financial influence bearing on regional economies, and do not exert the sole pre-eminent influence they once did. Global capital and currency markets have a strong part to play in regional economic outcomes.
National policies too now have a far greater impact upon state economies. In particular, the change to the national method of tax collection, especially the move to a broad-based consumption tax has been and will be important. This will lead to the progressive abolition of a range of state taxes, which will entrench vertical fiscal imbalance. The increased private ownership of what were formerly State owned assets is also a factor which will impact on Victorian budgets.
Increasingly there will be a need for Victoria to approach financial planning with a long term strategic focus and not simply work from year to year. Our pre-budget submission will not focus on the upcoming financial year in isolation, but will advance propositions designed to put that financial year into a broader context.
We will be advocating prudent financial management within a strategic framework of reform.
We will put forward views based on sound research and formulated with the broad public interest in mind, and not simply look for sectional or short-term gain. Our focus will be on policies which are broader than just economic considerations, and which seek to advance Victoria as an attractive investment destination, and which promote growth and jobs.
Property Council applauds the Government for commissioning its Review of Business Taxes and urges the Government to seize this opportunity to undertake long term structural reform which will promote growth and investment, and not give in to pleas for short-term superficially attractive quick fixes.
Property Council’s platform is straightforward:
Abolish stamp duty on commercial conveyances
End the aggregation of land tax and implement a land tax regime with a flat rate across the board with a threshold to protect small business
Property Council believes cuts to payroll tax would be appropriate in the context of the implementation of the above structural reform to stamp duty on commercial conveyances and land tax.
Retail Tenancies reform should be targeted towards encouraging investment.
Property Council urges the Government to maintain its funding for VCAT so that the commercial list continues to deal expeditiously with commercial matters over $5 million.
The Government should establish a streamlined planning process for projects of state economic significance valued at over $5 million, and should streamline the planning process overall.
Property Council is of the view that structural reforms to improve the functionality of the Council of the City of Melbourne can be undertaken with little net cost to budget. These include establishing a voting system which will result in the election of a majority ticket led by a Lord Mayoral candidate, and/or including a directly elected Lord Mayor and a Capital City Committee along South Australian lines.
Property Council supports adequate regulation to ensure that a very high level of reliability and availability of supply is maintained by utility companies. It is very concerned about the vital services on which properties now rely and mindful of the extremely costly alternative of standby power, water supply storage, etc.
Property Council urges the Government to make a commitment to improving the standard of education throughout Victoria, recognising that education, training and the knowledge economy are keys to Victoria's future.
Property Council regards transport as an issue of the highest priority for the State Government. An efficient transport system that actively supports all sectors of the economy, facilitates freight movement in and around the State and increases the City’s attractiveness as an investment centre is essential for maintaining a strong Victorian economy.