DEATH TAX: Greens party plans to tax the dead

greensdeath The Greens party’s extreme policies continue to go largely unscrutinised by the media in this election despite published opinion polls indicating that they will achieve as much as 15% of the vote nation-wide including winning the inner-city seats of Melbourne and even Sydney and Grayndler, on the back of Liberal preferences.

The Greens party’s soaring vote – especially in the Senate – could give them much more than symbolic wins, it will give them a balance of power or a legislative veto that the extreme left party has never had, indeed no extreme left party has have ever had in the history of this country.

The Greens party method of operation is to cloak extreme-left policies that have been long since dropped by even most Socialist Left ALP members, usually because of a recognition they are electoral poison, under the blanket of protecting the environment which continues to be a rightly popular cause.

One of the extreme left’s ancient enthusiasms has been taxing death or more particularly taxing the estates of people who’ve just died.

Fulfilling their extreme left mission, in their current Economics policy dated March 2010, the Greens party propose an estate tax. It is buried in the fine-print of the policy documents which are rarely brought to public attention. In this case, VEXNEWS understands the policy was generated out of Greens party leader Senator Bob Brown’s office after being approved by what passes for a Greens party policy process.

The balance of power that the Greens party aims for could well be used as leverage to implement radical policies of this kind.

That’s exactly what they’re telling voters in seats like Melbourne, according to those in the seat who’ve been accosted by Greens party campaigners, who say they’ll pressure Labor to adopt their policies, on climate change et al. Naturally enough they don’t talk about their plans to impose a death tax very often but it’s right there in their economic policy.

Death taxes were once levied in Australia by the states until the Queensland Nats did one of their occasionally inspired acts and abolished it in 1977, enticing oldies from the south to retire in the sun and avoid probate tax as it was called. As a result, by 1984, all federal and state death taxes in Australia were abolished. [For more than you’d ever want to know about the history of our tax system click here.]

greenspolicydeath Taxing vulnerable and often frail old people – who’ve worked hard all their lives, paid taxes and saved what was left and paid taxes on that and invested and paid yet more taxes and hoped to leave a legacy to their kids or grandkids and/or maybe some to charity or whoever – is now almost universally in Australian politics as politically stupid and bad policy too.

If you tax death then you also have to tax gifts to stop people dissipating their estates before they die.

In jurisdictions where there are estate taxes, they seem to raise much less money than intended but still cause incredible disruption and angst for people when they should winding down, not stressing about everything they’ve worked for being sold up in an Australian Tax Office auction. Some economists (one an ALP candidate in this election) have argued that people even delay dying for favourable tax outcomes. Yes, really.

The Greens policy says its proposed death tax would exempt “family” farms, small business worth less than $5 million and the family home. They don’t specify a rate, but in the United States their estate tax rate is 55 cents in the dollar.

So potentially under the Greens party policy, precious family heirlooms or jewellery or much-loved family beach shack or painting that had been in the family for generations would all be vulnerable to seizure, sale and the government taking half the proceeds. As a refugee, your grandmother smuggled her grandmother’s priceless engagement ring out of occupied Europe in World War II to Australia. Too bad, the Greens want their 55%, thanks.

Great Australian family businesses built from scratch like Murdoch’s News Corporation, Lindsay Fox’s Linfox, Lowy’s Westfield, the late great Richard Pratt’s Visy could become majority owned by the state or most likely would be carved up and liquidated under the Greens death tax plan.

It’s a policy that would do Hugo Chavez proud.

As ever, the shrewd would do everything they could to avoid it, the honest would just do as they’d done all their lives and pay the death tax, as legislated.

It’s a controversial policy, not without superficial appeal to some when we consider consider playboys like Stevie Lew, the son of billionaire Sol Lew, who dumped his wife shortly after she had a baby, and continues to tool around Melbourne in flash convertibles and with Daddy’s black Amex.

But the truth is that tearing apart the great Australian businesses that have been built up after World War II would create tremendous instability in Australia and undermine much of the incentive these great business creators had in the first place. They wanted to leave a legacy of achievement for their kids. Not wealth, achievement. In the case of Westfield, Visy and Linfox, the founder’s kids are working on the business and don’t drive flash cars they’ haven’t earned.

It would not serve Australia’s interest to destroy all that in the name of ideological zeal.

These debates occasionally arise in the moderate left party, the ALP.

But mostly sensible people are in the majority there and can stop most crazy schemes.

Never mind the labels of Left and Right, today pragmatic people dominate both Labor’s Right and Left factions, probably for the first time in Australian history. There are exceptions, as we occasionally enjoy chronicling, but they aren’t as many or as powerful as they used to be. Labor is probably as representative of the Labor supporters voting for it as it has ever been, for which they endure vitriol of the academic ultra-left and some Fairfax journalists who crave an obscure, irrelevant, radical, unpopular and unrepresentative Labour party of the kind that prevailed in Thatcher’s Britain. Certainly it made good copy.

But Labor’s leadership – Left and Right – would  be horrified at the idea of waiting for the Lowys, the Pratts or Murdochs to die and then confiscate half of what they’d built.

Attacking capital costs jobs. That’s why a massive, sudden tax increase on the mining industry made many in Labor very nervous. They want to be – and they ought to be encouraged to be – ensuring the conditions are right for job creation. That’s been the great and valuable insight made by social democrats within Labor: the best kind of welfare is the best-paying job and the strongest possible safety net for everyone can only be created by a government drawing from the strongest possible economy.

Even Labor’s Left seem to get it. Most of them anyway. Tanner, Ferguson, Gillard, even our old target Kim Carr seem to understand it quite well. This is to be celebrated.

A death tax would be bad for Australia, simply, it encourages consumption among the wealthy and punishes thrift and investment. It is a cause of great delight and revenue for lawyers and accountants paid to minimise it. Would we rather successful people in this country spend up lavishly on imported luxuries and smart-alec tax lawyers or keep reinvesting in their businesses, creating jobs and opportunity for Australia?

The Greens party have not – as ever – carefully considered their policy. Like illicit drug use, it felt good so they just went and did it, casually disregarding the adverse consequences.

That’s why it’s so important that the policy of this extreme-left and very well-cloaked party are examined carefully and brought to public attention.

They need to be accountable. With 15% of the vote, they will inevitably eventually be in a position to get some of the agenda implemented using the leverage of a balance of power in the Senate or even – horrifyingly – in the House of Representatives where our national government is formed.

There are good people within the Greens party. Give us a week and we’ll try to think of one. But seriously, they are playing by different rules.

If Gillard announces a dumb policy, then we hear all about it. Tom Bentley’s Citizens’ Assembly, for example. If Abbott makes a mess in policy terms as he has with an incredibly confusing set of proposals that would both increase company taxes on our best Australian companies and then later decrease them with a continued differential rate, then it gets plenty of adverse attention.

The Greens party propose the most outrageous policies and they rarely get called on it.

Their brand attracts people who worry about the environment. And many people legitimately fear for the planet.

With decisions by made the Liberals and Labor, the community has won many big fights, drastically reducing pollution (as the dolphins in the Maribyrnong River and Sydney Harbour demonstrate), protecting built heritage and forests and biodiversity, it is right and good that Liberals and Labor people continue to embrace the cause of environmental protection.

Doing so gives them much more credibility when challenging the excesses of environmentalist extremists who say carbon emission caused climate change could prompt Doomsday while proposing solutions that would merely export jobs to those places not willing to embrace carbon taxes. And much more credibility when they challenge enviro extremists on issues like their stubborn ideological opposition to nuclear energy which emits zero carbon.

The Greens party is not an environmental party. It is a party of the far-left that wants to punish private school students, ban our incredibly popular world-class zoos from importing animals and even wants to tax death.

Their policies are extreme. They survive little scrutiny or analysis.

We sense the Greens party balloon has inflated to its fullest point. And as ever, we are delighted to be the prick.



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24 responses to “DEATH TAX: Greens party plans to tax the dead

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention VEXNEWS 2010© | DEATH TAX: Greens party plans to tax the dead --

  2. Anonymous

    Of course, the “smart” money will always be held in trusts and companies, so would never be touched by estate taxes. It would only be the lower and middle classes getting duped into paying, thereby not generating any meaningful tax revenue for the government.

  3. burst that balloon

    From July 2011 this country will be held to ransom by complete nut-bags who are willfully ignorant of the real world.

  4. Sandy

    It will be very interesting to see whether there is any media analysis of the Greens policies

  5. sai

    that’s ok – dead people don’t vote for the greens anyway

  6. Anon

    On the one hand we have property developers ripping the guts out of forrests for profit motive. On the other hand we have the Greens who will effectively tax the working classes.

    Two bunch of elites screwing the public interest for their own agendas.

    I’ve had enough of this rubbish. When will something be done about it?

  7. patrick

    Actually, it is a brilliant policy.


    This proposal just proves how stupid and looney Brown and his cohorts are. Now they are doing snide and slimey back door deals with Labor in order to get some of these looney ideas up. Well you idiots such a proposal might work for a couple of years, but what happens when people decide enough is enough and star dying with not a zac to their name. Brown best go back to biting his pillow and just fade away – you lost me years ago with your antics at Crown and those unemployed scabs living on welfare who support your stupid ideas.

  9. Wayno

    Talking about scrutiny, interesting that this article doesn’t have the details of the writer – just Vexnews. Doesn’t really tell the reader much about the political agenda of the journo who penned it.

    As for The Greens policies not being reported by the media that’s hardly the fault of The Greens. They are the only party that has all of their policies available online in full all year round. Doesn’t seem fair to ask them to do your job for you?

    This is just a beat-up and a chance to call The Greens extreme (although repeating it ten times in one article does seem a little, well – extreme).

    The closer the election gets and the more people are disillusioned with LibLab the more silly articles like this will come out.

    As for ‘An attack on prosperity’ don’t make me laugh. You listed Pratt who it was just revealed was as dodgy as an $11 note, Murdoch who disowned Australia for a tax break and both Linfox and Westfield who bend over backwards to look green to customers but are among two of the highest political donors.

    Although they won’t be giving any donations to The Greens, but not because the don’t want to. Because The Greens don’t take donations from organisations unlike LibLab. Who are both often beholden to vested interests (ETS, Mining Tax, Fuel Emission Regulations all scuttled in last 4 months).

    The Green party isn’t a party of the far left, it is an independent party. And like or not they’ll be around for a while yet. They are also the faster growing party.

  10. hashlover

    _with a threshold of $5 million as indexed from the year 2010._

    So all you eager beavers are worried about your $5 million+ inheritances and bequeathments. “Greens against the workers!”- meh

    -The rate is unspecified, though “the US has a rate of X”. Give me a break; you probably also advocate a continuation of most of the neo-lib/con US style of economic management that will see us paying for years (read generations) as the chickens keep coming home.

    -“They want your jewels and heirlooms”; It’s a public web site (which is actually relatively forthright) and I think they were trying to politely explain things to the idiots; of course you’ve already sought more clarification/ detail.

    -your reasoning and demonstration of critical thinking suggests that no amount of hash cookie abstinence will help your brain to function in any way, shape, or form.

    People like you are the reason we have so many retarded politicians and the continuation of policy free elections.

    Vote #1 LibLabs!

  11. Photo ID at Polling Booths Needed

    Sai, you are correct, dead people don’t vote for Greens but certainly a hell of a lot still manage to vote Labor.

  12. anon

    I’m now voting for Greens, as a ALP member (soon to be ex) I can’t wait to tell them they are fucked.

  13. Hamish Fawns

    The major parties are weak and just act to try to impress the undecided voters who are on the whole selfish and ignorant. As such their policies are never forward thinking. Australia has become the most polluting country in the world per capita. We dig up our minerals and cut down our forests for a pittance and then buy back the goods and ridiculous prices. Only the Greens have the guts to think ahead to create forward thinking responsible policies. The ONLY good people in Australian politics are Green candidates.

  14. Persse

    Of course if you were able to be honest you could call it for what it is, a tax on the inheritors of an estate. The departed don’t need it, just quietly, and the beneficiaries benefit from the increased services that the nation as a whole is able to provide. Win, win.
    The only ones with their noses out of joint are the types who go around writing their names on mum’s furniture every time she catches a cold. Parasites.

  15. Pingback: Combining life’s two certainties – death and wacky Green taxes « The VECCI Blog

  16. James B

    Death TAX??? The sort of dysphemistic language, you only hear from polititions. Not journalists.

    To the cloaked author, trying to expose the greens cloaked policies.

    Your story started as though it could have been an interesting look into greens policy. Instead, 1683 words later, I am yet to read even one, half decent analysis of any of their policies.

    I am not a greens supporter. I just can’t stand rubbush slander. Your readers deserve more honesty.

    I ask anyone concerned with this policy, to have a good look into it.

  17. Steven

    The Greens are a left-wing party pursuing left-wing policies and as far as I know they have never tried to deny this or pretend otherwise. Certainly they have policies other than environmental ones, and while for a large number of Green voters the environment is the number one issue, there are others who vote for the Greens primarily because of their policies on transport, health, education, refugees, urban planning, and so on.

    As for the charges of extremism – well, extremism is in the eye of the beholder. As the major parties drift further and further to the right (some would say extreme right), even moderate left-wing policies may appear ‘extreme’ simply because of their distance from what the major parties advocate, but this does not make the policies themselves extreme.

    As for the specific policy you discuss – the estate tax – it seems to me that we do not have enough information about what is being proposed to make a proper judgement. As you yourself point out, we do not know what the proposed tax rate would be. It may be well less than what you imagine.

    I agree that Greens policies should be scrutinised, as should the policies of all parties. That is why we have the Parliament – to debate and test policy ideas. If a proposal needs fixing, it can be amended. If it is no good at all, it can be rejected. But to write off the entire Greens party and their policies, simply because of one sentence that you disagree with, seems foolhardy to me.

  18. juanita

    I would be interested to know if this death tax will attack & deplete super that is inherited?

  19. SD

    Death tax is a thing of the past!!!!

  20. Justin

    So, the Murdochs and Linfox’s of the world are examples of the bright lights of our economic future? Aggressive monopolizing companies (Coles, Woolies anyone?) that conduct business to wipe out any and all competitors so they have total dominance of the marketplace? I’m not interested in a US-style, may-as-well-be lasse faire economy. I’m interested in a society that has everyone – man, woman and child, regardless of their socio-economic status – progressing. At the moment, it is only the select few very wealthy and those lucky enough to have been able to take advantage of the housing boom that progress. The rest of us plebs live a life on a knife-edge. It’s fucked. Change is needed otherwise our rapid acceleration to the tipping point will get ever faster.

    I support the idea that extreme wealth generated through life, by taking advantage of society, should be injected back into said society. Obviously, the welfare of the donor and their family must be taken into consideration, but hoarding all the cash at the detriment to the society that provided the generation of said wealth does very little to help our nation as a whole.

    Anyways, without a percentage to quote, this is all probably a storm in a teacup. I would like to believe we certainly wont be going down the US track of 55%.

  21. Jane

    I think ‘death taxes’ sound like a great idea. If you hoard away enough money to surpass the threshold, then your estate shouldn’t be able to retain it. It should be fed back into society. I’m sick of entitled capitalists.

  22. how much death tax would i haveto pay on $400.

  23. helen

    There is a decided lack of information on the website about this proposed policy and I would like to read it fully has anyone read more than 3 lines about it? It is impossible to know the impact without having facts to go on. Where are they?

  24. lee

    Personally i think that death duties are part of the politics of envy; I guess Green is a good colour for it.

    My estate is currently valued at about $150,000 including the house and I’m currently on a pension. However, I’m only, potentially, one Powerball away from being affected.

    There is no information on the website. It is not so much a policy as an idea that hasn’t been thought through to a conclusion.

    Family trusts and closely held family companies could still be affected, depending on the legislation.

    There is no guarantee that it will only affect net assets, so conceivably $6m in assets with $3m debt would still qualify.

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