Treasurer Ben Wyatt is considering hitting the greater Bunbury region, Mandurah and Murray with a $7 million a year land tax slug, but has turned the blame on the opposition for coming up with the idea in the first place.
Mr Wyatt is considering a plan to extend the Metropolitan Region Improvement Tax, which helps pay for roads and parks, to the Bunbury and Peel regions.
But even though the Labor government would have to legislate the tax, Mr Wyatt said the former Liberal government was responsible for keeping revenue from the measure in the budget even after dropping the plan.
“Mike Nahan booby trapped the budget back in 2015-16 when he booked the revenue for this expanded tax in the budget,” he said.
“So the decision for the government is to whether to scrap Mike Nahan’s tax on regional WA or to remove it from the budget and deal with the loss of revenue that the former treasurer had booked into the budget.”
Mr Wyatt said the tax would only apply to investment properties and deflected questions about the economic impact of the tax.
“Any questions about its economic impact are probably better directed towards Mr Nahan who has booked revenue from the tax since the 2015-16 Budget,” he said.
Mr Wyatt said if the revenue from the tax was removed from the budget, “the hole would need to be covered by more borrowings or by more savings elsewhere”.
“Sadly the consequences of the Nahan trickery with earlier budgets cannot be wished away,” he said.
Opposition spokesman for the Peel region Zak Kirkup slammed the revenue plan, labelling it a “Mandurah tax”.
“Any attempt by the state government to expand the Metropolitan Region Improvement Tax to include Mandurah will be yet another breach of Mark McGowan’s categorical election promise to West Australians not to introduce any new taxes or increase existing taxes,” he said.
“Increasing developers’ costs will in turn increase costs to home buyers looking to get into the market in Mandurah and the Peel Region.
“Land sales in new developments are predominantly to first home buyers and young families.”
Mr Kirkup said the government was looking to offset $5 billion in unfunded election commitments.
“I cannot believe the Premier wants to tax people who specifically want to live in Mandurah and I will not stand for it,” he said.
“If the Labor Party wants to introduce this ‘Mandurah Tax’ then they have picked a fight with the wrong community.
“Together with residents, I and my fellow Liberals will fight this tooth and nail to make sure it doesn’t go ahead.”