Posted on 28. Feb, 2012 in News

The Baillieu Government has no choice but to support Opposition amendments and legislate an end date for a planned $75 million annual tax grab on the Port of Melbourne Corporation, Shadow Minister for Ports Tim Pallas said today.

Mr Pallas said the Baillieu Government’s Port of Melbourne Corporation Licence Fee Bill now before State Parliament was a clumsy tax grab that would disadvantage businesses, increase the cost of goods for consumers and potentially cost jobs.

“Mr Baillieu has broken his promise to Victorians to introduce no new taxes,” Mr Pallas said.

“At a time when the Baillieu Government should be doing all it can to reduce costs to business and invest in infrastructure to support investment and create new jobs, the Baillieu Government is attempting to introduce a new impost on business.

“What is worse, the $75 million windfall the Baillieu Government hopes to raise each year through the Port of Melbourne Corporation Licence Fee will go straight to consolidated revenue instead of funding infrastructure upgrades to and around the port.”

Mr Pallas said Mr Baillieu had no mandate for the introduction of this big new tax.

“It is a 50 per cent increase on every charge for importers and exporters that will put further pressure on businesses already under pressure from the high Australian dollar.”

He said today Labor moved a number of amendments to the legislation to make the fee more equitable and transparent.

They included provisions to: • Abolish the fee in 2016; • Legislate for the Essential Services Commission to review the PoMC’s charging schedule; • Gazette all port charges each year and identify what charge has increased to support the fee; and • Establish a process to recover overcharging.

Mr Pallas said there was a significant risk of over-recovery of the tax.

“The new Port of Melbourne Corporation Licence Fee is conceived in deceit and poorly designed,” Mr Pallas said.

“As it stands, funds collected in excess of $75 million will be brought forward to fund the following financial year’s licence fee. This will have a severe impact on business planning, and future discounts based on previous over-recovery will not necessarily benefit those who pay too much.”

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