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"True Liberals" take land tax stand against Marshall Govt

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The schism in the state Liberals over the Marshall Government’s land tax grab is threatening to spawn a new political party, with a group of prominent opponents to the contentious changes registering the company name ‘True Liberals’ to an Adelaide address.

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Richard Solomon, partner with Halifax Street law firm Solomon Humble, has registered the moniker with ASIC in order to trademark the brand, with a view to establishing a breakaway political party if the Government proceeds with the $40 million a year budget measure.

Treasurer Rob Lucas has indicated he intends to introduce the aggregation measure – likely in conjunction with an immediate reduction in the top land tax rate from 3.7 to 2.9 per cent – by the end of the year.

Solomon told InDaily the ‘True Liberal’ name, which was registered last week, was currently “just sitting there… but if this keeps going, this party will be formed”.

“We don’t want to do this,” he added.

“I’m just doing it not on behalf of myself but on behalf of a number of people [and] at some stage if this doesn’t stop it will be set up as a political party.

“I think we need a mandatory 300 signatures, and the only reason we won’t have those signatures in five minutes is we that wouldn’t have enough time to take them all down.”

Solomon is a current member of the Liberal Party and says he’ll “consider whether I’ll resign in due course”.

“At the moment I might stay – because my vote might be necessary for something,” he said.

In a Facebook post shared by prominent Liberal supporters this week, he wrote that “the rage of land tax payers and others is unprecedented and Marshall and Lucas are not listening”.

“Political suicide is happening and the State Government is in quicksand… the only way out is to stop their rubbish and forget their intending land tax aggregation amendments and fulfil their pre-election promise of reducing the already very hefty single holding tax rate.”

Solomon said the changes would have “a flow on effect of damaging the economy with real estate activity at a virtual stop and even tradesmen not getting work from multi property owners”.

Many Liberal supporters, he noted, were “alarmed with the socialist direction proposed by their previous beloved SA Liberal Party”.

“They can see the death of this party as imminent and it is like losing a loved one in tragic circumstances where their leaders did not listen to their previous supporters,” he wrote.

“RIP SA Liberal Party and unless there can be a last-chance change of mind by Marshall and Lucas then good luck with the pending True Liberals Party.”

It’s understood the notion of a breakaway party was flagged at last week’s meeting of constituents held at the Feathers Hotel by Deputy Premier Vickie Chapman in her seat of Bragg, with several prominent developers in attendance.

InDaily has been told many who attended expressed support for the idea.

If the True Liberals did proceed, it could represent the most significant Liberal split since the Liberal Movement was spawned under former Premier Steele Hall in the 1970s, later itself splintering before the foundation of the Australian Democrats.

Solomon said True Liberals would be “supported by a lot of prominent people”.

“We’re all hoping [the Government] will back down,” he said.

“But at the moment nobody can see that.”

Another attendee at the Feathers meeting who backed the idea of the True Liberals was Unley dentist Dr Timothy Goh, who told InDaily he was no politician but was “happy to help out”.

“This is about South Australia, not Liberal or Labor – it’s about the state as a whole,” he said.

“It’s not about starting a rebellion Liberal movement, it’s about doing what we can to protect South Australia from politicians who are not looking after the state’s best interests.”

Another who is understood to have been involved in discussions about the prospective party is philanthropist and Universal Motor Auctions director Phillip De Pinto, who told InDaily he had “a little bit of involvement but there’s no way I want to be a politician”.

“This is not about Liberal fighting with Liberal – this is to stop this ridiculous land tax, which is going to absolutely destroy the state,” he said.

“Whatever they’re trying to do, they’ll go down in history for it.”

He said the Government “needs to listen [because] there’s an audience there telling them this is going to kill the state, all these prominent people standing up saying ‘this is ridiculous’”.

“I don’t get it,” he said.

“I’m not a politician by any means, but if I’m running a business and something’s going to destroy it, I’d do something about it… I know a lot of developers, businesspeople and Mums and Dads that have actually pushed the stop button.

“I’m not a politician and don’t want to be, I just want the economy to improve and grow.”

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