Queensland LNP targets payroll tax, stamp duty concessions after landslide victory

Raising the payroll tax exemption to $1.6 million and reintroducing stamp duty concessions will form part of the LNP’s pitch to small business after winning the Queensland election in a landslide.

Premier-elect Campbell Newman – who has won without any parliamentary experience – has also warned he will join other Liberal-led states to “fight for the common cause” against the Federal Government’s mining tax, after his party looked to be on track to win 78 seats in the 89 seat Parliament.

Outgoing Labor premier Anna Bligh stood down after the defeat, which saw her government lose more than 40 seats. 

“We simply can’t walk away from the fact that we’ve seen results similar to this in other states of Australia – it’s tough times for Labor,” she said, as Labor powerbrokers reflect on how the defeat could affect the Federal Government’s chances at the next election.

Jann Stuckey is now set to become the state’s small business minister, with the incoming State Government focusing on delivering changes to how payroll tax is calculated. Tim Nicholls is to become the state’s treasurer, tasked with erasing the state’s deficit within the next two years.

Queensland has been the source of considerable small business pain, with tourism businesses hit by the high dollar and many solar energy businesses collapsing because government subsidies have been withdrawn.

The state’s level of small business insolvencies is also extremely high, with many construction businesses going under. Hundreds of other businesses also fell victim to a spate of natural disasters in 2011.

The LNP has promised to raise the threshold for payroll tax exemptions to $1.6 million, a move that will cost $580 million over the next six years.

Newman flagged the changes to the much-hated tax last month, saying it was inefficient and prevents businesses from creating jobs.

“It’s an inefficient, job-inhibiting tax that discourages businesses from growing,” he said, in a speech at the Townsville Chamber of Commerce. “I can assure you that we want to do something about this.”

The move would form part of the Government’s plan to reduce unemployment to 4%, while Newman has also said the government will pay its bills within 30 days – or start paying interest.

That will apply to contracts of up to $1 million, most of which are fulfilled by small business, and is part of a move to reduce government waste. Newman is also set to order a 20% cut in travel expenses, and a ban on non-essential government advertising.

Another key measure would be reinstating stamp duty discounts for a principal place of residence, which will cost $900 million. Newman has also hinted at changes to the state Urban Land Development Authority, which holds the seat of power in developing new land projects.

He also wants to “empower” local councils. Property has been at the forefront of the business debate in Queensland, with the construction industry suffering major setbacks with major developers including Australand complaining of poor conditions.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has defended itself against comments from Newman, and other Liberal premiers, that the landslide win is a message for the Gillard Government.

“If you’ve been in government 20 out of the last 22 years, at some point you probably do wear out the welcome mat,” Federal Labor minister Bill Shorten told ABC Radio this morning, referring to the outgoing Queensland Labor Government.

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