During a regional budget tour held last week, The Nationals Member for Euroa Annabelle Cleeland and Shadow Treasurer Brad Rowswell joined together for a roundtable in Seymour with representatives from across the electorate.
Nagambie, Euroa, Kilmore, and Seymour were all represented at the roundtable, focusing on regional investment, tax-induced strain placed on local businesses, and overspending by the Andrews Government.
At the meeting, Ms Cleeland and Mr Rowswell listened intently to the concerns of local businesses, who have faced a painstakingly difficult two years with COVID, significant floods, and increased taxes.
“We’ve got businesses that have survived COVID, they’ve survived the floods, and now their punishment is high taxes,” Ms Cleeland said.
“They’re really struggling and it’s important to ensure that our local businesses are not the ones being impacted by irresponsible spending by the Labor Government.
“There’s genuine fear regional Victoria is going to pay the price of the overspending in Melbourne.
“At the moment, regional communities are only receiving 13 per cent of funding for projects across the state despite making up 25 per cent of the population.
“This disparity means that regional communities are only receiving 50 per cent of what they should be, yet they are still facing the same consequences of high taxes.”
New data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has revealed the Andrews Government and councils collected an extra $7.3bn in land tax, stamp duty, rates and other charges in the last financial year alone.
In 2021-22, Victorians paid an average of $5638 to both levels of government, compared to $5537 in New South Wales.
The total amount pocketed by the Victorian and local governments was $36.9 billion, up from $29.6 billion the year before – a 25 per cent increase.
“No one should be surprised that Victoria is now the highest taxing state in the nation,” Mr Rowswell said.
“We’re seeing these taxes cripple local businesses as well as the budgets of households across the state.
“The Labor Government is paying $10m in interest on the state’s debt every single day. This money could transform regional projects and alleviate many of the issues we’ve heard about today.”
The ABS figures reveal land tax revenue rose from $3.2 billion to $4.1 billion while a booming property market
helped push the total stamp duty take to $10.72 billion as young Victorians struggled to enter the market.