Opposition Leader Matthew Guy has unveiled his plan to stop Melbourne’s population boom, the same day the federal government said it could stop new migrants moving into major cities.
Mr Guy on Tuesday announced a Liberal government would review Victoria’s payroll, land and property taxes to “decentralise” the state.
It could include abolishing payroll tax for regional areas to incentivise growth, but Mr Guy would not pre-empt the review.
He made the pitch at a business lunch hosted by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA).
Mr Guy said Labor’s infrastructure blitz wasn’t keeping up with what he described as uncontrolled and unsustainable growth.
“It’s like a dog chasing its tail,” he said.
“We can’t do business for the next 30 years the same way we’ve done business in the last 30 years.”
Melbourne is due to overtake Sydney to become Australia’s most populated city within the next decade.
“Nowadays, myself and most Melbournians would say: ‘You can keep it. We don’t want that title.’
“Daniel Andrews, my opponent, says it’s inevitable that we will get to eight million people within the timeframes forecast and I disagree. Nothing is inevitable. It’s the job of government to find alternative ways forward.”
Shadow Treasurer Michael O’Brien insisted the plan would not result in higher taxes for Melbourne.
The review would take 12 to 18 months to make recommendations.
“Their task will be to listen and visit rural and regional communities to understand how the taxation system is holding their economies back and provide the options that will solve those problems,” Mr Guy said.
The Labor government halved the payroll tax for businesses in regional Victoria at the May budget.
“When the Liberals talk about tax reviews, it means handouts to big corporations and cuts to the services hard-working Victorians rely on,” Treasurer Tim Pallas said in a statement to The New Daily.
Labor plans to move public sector jobs to regional centres, with GovHubs moving 1800 workers to Ballarat, Bendigo and Morwell.
Mr Guy said a Liberal government would move VicRoads and potentially V/Line headquarters to Ballarat.
The opposition last week announced a European-style rail link that would travel up to 200km/h connecting to regional centres at an estimated cost of up to $19 billion.
If elected, Mr Guy said he’d be minister for population along with premier. And he would create a minister for Geelong and minister for decentralisation.
The November state election is just 45 days from Wednesday.
The federal population plan
Earlier on Tuesday, federal Population Minister Alan Tudge announced some migrants on temporary visas could be forced to live out of major cities for up to five years to ease congestion.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said people should be able to choose where they live.
“I’m not about telling people where they should live, I’m about connecting people no matter where they live and building the infrastructure that is absolutely critical,” Mr Andrews told reporters.
Responding to the federal government’s suggestion, Ben Oquist from the Australia Institute said congestion was the result of successive governments failing to invest in infrastructure.
“I think that is a big worry to suggest some people are not going to be able to seek a better job in a bigger city,” he said.