Calling the government to account

November/December 2016 edition

Everyone in NSW has some association, direct or indirect, with property. Yet the property industry is treated as an afterthought by the NSW Government.

By Tim McKibbin

Our industry, through property taxation, is the NSW Government’s single biggest revenue generator. It is the engine room of our economy. But on a political level it is not given the attention and respect it deserves. Unjustly and undeservedly, it is treated by the government as a mere afterthought. This is no way to treat an industry that is effectively the state’s biggest and most important asset.

Think about it. Would you treat your primary asset as an afterthought? Of course not. You would devote a substantial amount of your time to protecting, managing and developing that asset.

But that’s not the approach the government takes. Instead, the property industry is lumped in with approximately 40 other unrelated trades and professions under the administration of NSW Fair Trading.

Put simply, the property industry is largely ignored. It just makes no economic or common sense.

It’s also safe to say that the small business community has not fared much better. As the largest employer in our state, it’s an industry that also fails to receive the attention it deserves.

Inside the political arena

In all the circumstances, it’s obvious that the property industry should and must have a political voice to elevate the industry to its rightful place of importance, both politically and economically. We know that the health and prosperity of NSW depends upon it.

The government merely pays lip service to both the property industry and small business sector. Beyond the rhetoric, there is little in the way of real action. This reality has led to calls for the establishment of a property and small business political party. Most recently, Wizard Home Loans founder Mark Bouris came out in support of such a party.So is there a place for a property and small business political party to exert influence on public policy? I think there is. And it’s a view shared by many REINSW members, as well as other allied professionals who are involved in the industry.

To date, REINSW has not been directly involved in mainstream politics. Yes, we lobby the government. Yes, we seek to influence key political decision-makers. But we have never stepped into the political arena ourselves. We have always sought to remain apolitical and work with all political parties in order to achieve our goals, and we will continue to do so.

But the success that other special interest groups have enjoyed in establishing a political party to represent their voice needs to be acknowledged. Look at the Shooters and Fishers Party and the Christian Democratic Party. Whether you agree with their agendas or not, the fact that they have been able to exert influence in the political process is without doubt.

A stronger voice

Our industry needs representation in the Upper House of the NSW Parliament. If we are to achieve real outcomes in our efforts to overhaul the property and business related taxes that inhibit our economy and push for property industry reforms to receive the attention they need and deserve, we need a voice on the inside. Someone needs to challenge the major political parties and call them to account.

While REINSW will not take steps to establish a political party, we would seriously consider supporting a property industry and small business party under the right circumstances.