States have the power to combat inequality

The ACT Labor Government has just won a historic 5th term. Not only did we win another 4 years in Government, but maintained our primary vote and saw a 3% swing against the Liberals. This result is all the more impressive given the rancorous and negative campaign waged against Labor by the conservatives, attacking the Government's tax reform and public transport plans.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr and the Labor Government have introduced a twenty year plan to replace stamp duty on property transactions with a steady increase in local rates, the equivalent of a broad based land tax.

Stamp duty is an inefficient and unfair tax. It increases the cost of buying homes, requiring significantly increased savings for first home buyers. It imposes transaction costs on older Australians looking to downsize, keeping those houses out of the hands of families and them in bigger homes with bigger maintenance and strata costs.

Stamp duty revenue for Governments is volatile, leaving State Government budgets for hospitals, schools and roads at the whim of the property market and we all know that tax avoidance is rampant amongst the top companies and the wealthiest of Australians.  

A progressive broad based land tax means being able to tax the wealthiest Australians, with very little ability to avoid it. It means the rich pay their fair share. You can’t shift a block of land to the Caymen Islands.

It means that Australians can more easily move into appropriate housing as they move through their life. It means a steady and reliable revenue stream to pay for the services we, as progressive Australians, expect from our Governments.

The NSW Labor Policy Forum, elected over a year ago, is meeting for the first time this Saturday. Its task is to review the Labor Platform and discuss the themes that we will take to the next state election. 

We need to put combating economic inequality at the heart of our proposition to the people of NSW.

Capital gains tax and negative gearing reform are important to combating inequality, but state governments have a central role as well.  

Despite promising to increase every homeowners quarterly rates above the level of inflation for the next 20 years, the Barr Labor Government has won a record 19 years in Government. Voters are rewarding politicians who stand up against inequality and implement bold but essential reforms.

This is an opportunity for NSW Labor to grab and make our own. To show that we see state governments as more than just about service delivery, we see them as central to a fair and equal Australia.

You can support this by passing the following motion at your branch and SEC:

Let me know when your branch has passed it! I can be contacted at


Asren Pugh is an elected rank and file member of the NSW Policy Forum and a delegate from Ballina SEC. 

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