I rise to support the State Taxation and Gambling Legislation Amendment (Budget Measures) Bill. I was going to talk on a wide range of aspects of the bill, but I think it is more appropriate, given that I have heard from all the parties now, bar the Democratic Labor Party, to talk about the points of difference rather than the areas on which there seems to be some general cross-party agreement.
I will direct my remarks primarily to the issue of the cuts in stamp duty on motor vehicles and will keep in mind the amendments that have come forward from the Greens. With respect to the tax cuts, it is important that we focus on the range of vehicles and the limit of $57 009, but prior to doing that it is important to reinforce the approach the government is taking on this and how it is trying to balance up and be mindful of the competing factors we have before us. It is clear that the Bracks government wants to promote the purchase of more environmentally sustainable and fuel-efficient vehicles in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That is clear; that is plain. These tax cuts will deliver benefits to buyers of more fuel-efficient vehicles such as hybrids, which are generally priced within this range.
I will come back to that in a moment.
There are a number of other spin-offs in relation to this. The purchase of more fuel-efficient vehicles will deliver ongoing savings for Victorians — for example, an improvement in fuel consumption that means just 1 litre of fuel will take us 100 kilometres and will save the average motorist just under $200 a year, and that is a significant saving for Victorian families. New vehicles in this range offer more recent safety benefits and innovations and therefore are delivering further benefits for Victorians.
On the suggested amendments that the Greens have provided us with in the last 5 or 10 minutes, you could argue that it appears on the surface they should be applauded. On my first quick reading I thought maybe there was some serious tangible benefit in the proposal to lift the $57 009 benchmark for hybrid vehicles, but I have a number of concerns.
I think they are shared by a number of my colleagues, and indeed I know they will be shared by various members of the community. The first is that I do not see what the real benefit of the amendments is. In fact I think they would provide very little benefit. The little benefit that I can see is for those people who can afford those hybrid vehicles that are priced beyond $57 009.
So we are actually creating a scenario where those who can afford what I would consider to be luxury vehicles, those who do not need a tax break, would under this proposal be receiving a benefit in the order of approximately $6000. That is of concern. I have been able to do some quick checking and, in the short time available, the information provided to me is that essentially there are two hybrid cars imported into this country that are beyond the maximum price of $57 009, and they are substantially beyond that maximum.
One is the Lexus four-wheel drive, which retails at around $94 000 — certainly a car well beyond the means of an ordinary working family — and the second is the Lexus GS450h, which retails, I am told, at $121 990. That is just under $122 000. Frankly, having that information in front of me, I have to say that I do not believe I could look a vehicle worker in the eye — someone who was working on the production line at Ford Broadmeadows or in the stamping plant down in Geelong — and say that I think these are fair and equitable amendments. I do not think these amendments even contemplate or consider the working lives of those people.
I believe these are unnecessary amendments, and I cannot help but believe they are probably a sop to the cafe latte set. They do nothing at all to support Australian manufacturing.
Despite that, I do not think anything should get in the way of all of us pressurising the car manufacturing industry in this country to step up to the mark in producing and manufacturing hybrid alternative and dual-fuel vehicles as soon as possible.
However, I would argue that these amendments are not the way to go about things. We all know that manufacturing in this country is in a very fragile state. It needs to be encouraged, it needs to be nurtured, it needs to be developed and it needs to be supported. These amendments do not do that, and they do not assist ordinary Australian families. I would call on the chamber to support the bill and reject the suggested amendments.