Succession sore point

24 Apr, 2002 10:00 PM
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THE State Government faces a fierce farm backlash if it re-introduces a stamp duty on farm succession in the May 16 budget.

WA National Party leader Max Trenorden has warned the cost would force farmers off the land ‹ a cost which runs into the tens of thousands of dollars.

It was the previous Liberal-National Coalition which removed the stamp duty on farmers passing family properties to immediate family members.

Mr Trenorden said the Gallop Government's plan to re-introduce the stamp duty on farm succession could force properties to be sold outside the family.

"Farmers planning on passing the family property onto their children might like to consider doing it before the budget," he said.

The stamp duty was compared to payroll tax exemptions for small business, which costs the state $400m in forgone revenue.

The family farms' exemption costs the state $4m out of more than $1b in forgone revenues, according to Labor's last budget statement.

"Farms should be seen as small businesses," Mr Trenorden said.

He urged the Gallop Government to consider the wider implications of re-introducing stamp duty on farm succession.

The Pastoralists and Graziers Association is one group which is seriously concerned about the plan.

PGA economics and business management chair Lynne Johnston, Darkan, described it as a retrograde step, which would be fiercely opposed.

According to Ms Johnston, having the stamp duty waived was a major breakthrough with the last government, which promoted the orderly succession of farms from generation to generation.

"Farm succession needs to happen early so we get the best of our young people and their best years into farm management," she said.

"They can't afford to invest years of their life on hope."

The PGA hopes it is only a rumour so it can be quickly quashed, which it is confident it can do.

"The State Government has started to venture down some very dubious paths and we have been able to prevent them," she said.

"This stamp duty would mean short-term monetary gain but long-term detriment to the agricultural industry."

WAFarmers president Colin Nicholl said the impost flew in the face of ALP policy to get more young people into agriculture.

WAFarmers wrote a letter to Mr Gallop last week, requesting the stamp duty not be re-introduced.

Mr Nicholl said the duty would have a significant impact on high value small farms, which didn't have a high income earning capacity.

He also attacked the government for cutting funding to rural roads and the Agriculture Department.

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