The letter, dated last Wednesday and seen by InDaily, confirms the development industry lobby group’s shift from the most prominent opponent of the Marshall Government’s land tax shake-up to its biggest backer.
But Darley remains staunchly unconvinced, saying the divisive debate has burned the Liberal base and “they won’t win another election for 20 years”.
It’s understood that of a raft of industry groups who met with Darley last week, the Property Council is the only one who has urged him to support the controversial legislation.
But the letter goes further, suggesting he use his influential position to gut Treasury’s budget windfall.
“In terms of the revenue position for government, you are in a powerful and unique position to negotiate further amendments and effectively render this budget measure revenue neutral,” the Property Council tells Darley.
The letter “encourages” Darley “support [the Bill’s] passage”, despite conceding “the initial proposal made in the Budget was haphazard, poorly costed and created in a vacuum”.
But the Government did a deal with the Property Council last month – as first revealed by InDaily – which raised the top threshold at which the highest rate kicked in.
This failed to win over other interest groups, including Business SA, who continue to argue that smaller so-called ‘mum and dad’ investors will continue to be burned by a planned crackdown on aggregation.
InDaily has been told that Business SA has pushed for a reduction in the middle tier threshold – currently taxed at 1.6 per cent – and could be mollified if Lucas adjusts it as low as 1.25 per cent.
The Property Council’s letter suggests this move is on the cards, telling Darley: “The Treasurer has moderated the State Government’s original proposal by [proposing] for the threshold between $755k and $1.1 million, to reduce the rate from 1.65 to 1.4 per cent (or potentially lower).”
It also outlines potential affordable and social housing initiatives and a $10 million compensation fund, as already outlined by InDaily last week.
“Our collective fear is that land tax reform will be permanently off the table if this Bill is defeated,” the Council tells Darley.
“This means that we cannot afford to let this opportunity pass us by, and with your support we can make that happen. It would be an immense and meaningful legacy that you can craft.”
It’s understood Darley and Lucas will meet this afternoon to discuss the Bill, but the crossbencher is increasingly dismissive of the contentious reform.
He dismissed the Property Council’s gambit, saying: “They go from total opposition to total support.”
“My concern is this is all self-interest,” he said of the various industry groups’ positions.
“I’m looking at the impact on the state… no-one’s thinking about the future – and I don’t think the Liberal Party are either.”
He said the Party had “shot themselves in the head” by alienating their support base with the land tax debate, and “they won’t win another election for 20 years”.
Asked about the middle tier land tax rate reduction, Lucas told InDaily “certainly one or two stakeholder groups have been arguing that’s what they prefer [but] there are others arguing for other things”.
“Certainly there are some stakeholder groups arguing they’d like to see more movement in relation to the smaller ‘mum and dad’ investors,” he said.
“What we’ve discussed with John is whether, as a result of any of these changes, would he change his position… and his position hasn’t changed.”
He said the various proposals were part of “a whole range of options that have been discussed with him [but] there’s no what might be described as a formal offer,” he said, adding that other groups such as the UDIA and Housing Industry Association had pushed for other changes that “don’t coincide with that particular view from Business SA”.
Business SA’s Executive Director of Industry and Government Engagement Anthony Penney said in a statement that “based on feedback from our members, there needs to be a material improvement in the rates at the lower end”.
“While 1.25 per cent is certainly a step in the right direction, those rates will ultimately come down to any negotiations between the Treasurer and the cross benchers, including John Darley,” he said.
Want to comment?
Send us an email, making it clear which story you’re commenting on and including your full name (required for publication) and phone number (only for verification purposes). Please put “Reader views” in the subject.
We’ll publish the best comments in a regular “Reader Views” post. Your comments can be brief, or we can accept up to 350 words, or thereabouts.
InDaily has changed the way we receive comments. Go here for an explanation.
Local News Matters
Media diversity is under threat in Australia – nowhere more so than in South Australia. The state needs more than one voice to guide it forward and you can help with a donation of any size to InDaily. Your contribution goes directly to helping our journalists uncover the facts. Please click below to help InDaily continue to uncover the facts.