18 October 2022

I make a brief contribution to debate on the Property Tax (First Home Buyer Choice) Bill 2022. I begin by covering some of Labor's concerns and amendments, which have been noted by other members. As we know, New South Wales is the highest taxing State in the country per capita. State and local government tax revenue in New South Wales went up by 9.4 per cent to $4,795 per person, which is the highest per capita tax take of any State or Territory across the country. As has been stated in the Chamber, the typical family in New South Wales would start by paying $1,700 in the first new year of the tax. In Sydney, that is likely to be around $2,400. If that family ever moves out and keeps the home, the rate will nearly quadruple from $2,400 to $8,833 in the first year.

A property owner paying the Sydney average of $2,400 per year of the new land tax would go to paying over $8,800 per year if the owners ever rented out the property. That would likely be passed on to the tenants, meaning that renters may have to pay an additional $8,800 per year or $170 per week extra in rent if they find themselves living in a property subject to the new tax. With the cost of living soaring, that can only lead to more people struggling. We should be focused on addressing insecure housing and homelessness.

The bill, which is also known as "Dominic Perrottet's new land tax", has a series of impacts. First home buyers will have to choose between paying land tax or paying stamp duty. The Government will then charge them an annual amount for as long as they own that property. The tax that they owe will equal a fixed amount plus an additional amount, according to the unimproved land value of their home every year. The impact will be on families, on the housing market and on the State budget. Mr Perrottet's plan is to start with first home buyers and then extend it to pensioners. Eventually, every home owner will have to pay Mr Perrottet's new tax.

Under this proposal, the land tax lasts forever. It really is a backdoor cash grab. Increased property prices will result in increased land tax. This tax lasts forever. I note for the member for North Shore that it is a forever tax if one lives in that home forever. In the North Shore electorate and in my electorate many people do not move on. Home owners will not have certainty about the tax that they will have to pay. Average property prices have grown more than twice as fast as the average wage during the past five years—by 25 per cent last year. That means that the typical home owner's annual land tax bill would have increased by more than double their annual income and families would have to cut spending to pay the increased tax. The member for Penrith spoke about this being easy and simple. I will tell you, it is easier to get into irretrievable simple debt forever.

As the value of individual homes rise, the annual tax property that owners pay will rise too because the Premier will tax residential properties using their annual value. The typical family in Sydney would start by paying $2,468 in the first year of the new tax and the typical family in New South Wales would start by paying $1,715 in the first year of the new tax, in addition to their increasing council rates. In the electorate of the Blue Mountains, the average annual land tax is $1,543 and the maximum annual land tax is $2,266. A couple of villages in the Blue Mountains are looking at figures that might impact people there. In Glenbrook, at the foot of the mountains, an average annual land tax would be $2,266. In Wentworth Falls, in the mid-mountains, where my young son is struggling to pay his mortgage but has hopes for the future, he will be paying $1,702. It is abominable.

I touch upon some issues that my constituents have raised with me. As members speak in the Chamber about the implications of a forever tax across the State, the rapidly rising cost of living continues to bite. That is especially true when it comes to housing affordability. The Blue Mountains has been heavily impacted by the crushing effects of runaway house prices. In Mount Riverview, a four-bedroom home that sold for $262,500 in 2004 just sold for $1.29 million, over a 500 per cent increase. In Springwood, a two-bedroom home that sold for $319,000 in 2011 just sold for $770,000, nearly a 250 per cent increase. In Blackheath, a five-bedroom home that sold for $880,000 barely six years ago just sold for $1.85 million, more than double in price. Can anybody in this Parliament name a working- or middle-class profession that has increased wages by 200 per cent, 250 per cent or 500 per cent over the past several years? Of course not.

The rate of house price growth in New South Wales, including in my community of the Blue Mountains, has become simply unsustainable and has triggered a housing affordability crisis of unprecedented proportion. The issue of homelessness intensifies as members talk in this House about land tax. One would think that when economics professors warn the Government left, right and centre that this policy will actually drive house prices up even further, it would ditch the misguided bill before us today. We owe it to our constituents to do what we can to try to make the dream of owning a home a reality for as many families as possible, not push it even further out of reach.

Though the Liberals might like to ignore it, the housing affordability crisis matters. It matters to the single working‑class mother from Katoomba who contacted my office in tears because every day for seven years she diligently denied herself and her two children anything beyond the basic necessities to try to secure a house for her family, only to find that every year the cost of housing gets higher and she falls further behind her goals to put together a deposit. It matters to the elderly couple from Winmalee who came into my office to tell me that after years on the rental market they were turfed out of their private accommodation, rejected from social housing and found their life savings insufficient for a deposit on as much as a one‑bedroom unit. It matters to the young family who called to let me know that despite being third-generation locals of the mid-mountains, they had to move over three hours from everything and everyone they know just to get a foothold in the market.

For all the rhetoric about helping first home buyers, the simple reality of this misjudged ideologically driven policy is that it will make housing even more unaffordable for first home buyers than it was before. Anyone struggling to buy a house right now needs certainty, not false hope of a shiny promise that never delivers more affordable housing. If this Government genuinely cared about first home buyers, it would scrap this tax. If this Government genuinely cared about reducing rather than increasing homelessness, it would scrap this never‑ending tax. This is not about choice. Those who seek to not pay stamp duty do not have a choice. Instead, they will be locked into an ever-increasing tax. I oppose the bill.