Case study: 2009-10 Land Tax Campaign
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Related areas of service: Campaigning
After a relentless eight-month campaign, the Tasmanian Government made sweeping legislative changes to land tax in Tasmania, described by then Treasurer Michael Aird as the biggest reform of land tax ever seen in the State.
In September 2009, Font was approached to design and implement a campaign with two key objectives – firstly, to elevate land tax reform as a key issue prior to announcement of the 2010-11 State budget; and secondly, to achieve policy reform that relieved the burden of land tax for all Tasmanians.
It was clear there was a strong case for reform. The facts of the issue were that:
- land tax receipts to Government had risen by around 344 per cent inTasmaniaover 10 years
- Tasmaniahad one of the most regressive land tax systems in the nation
- property owners were being asked to pay land tax on properties with a land valuation of $25,000 and above, compared to an average in other States of more than $250,000
- in other States, land tax was regularly adjusted to keep it in line with CPI, but this was not occurring in Tasmania.
An 18-member coalition of like-minded industry bodies and prominent citizens was formed to add voice to the campaign. Font worked with the coalition to articulate the following key messages:
- Tasmaniahas one of the most regressive land tax regimes in the nation
- there has been no move by the State Government to reform property taxes to bring the state into line with other States
- no matter who you are, whether you own property or not, land tax hits your hip pocket.
A campaign strategy was prepared, which incorporated a number of elements designed to achieve maximum penetration of key messages into target audience groups. Strategic activity included traditional and digital media profiling of the issue; letters to the editor; direct communications with key stakeholders – particularly politicians; political lobbying; advertising and signage.
The campaign gained momentum over a period of eight months, after which the Liberal Opposition responded that it acknowledged the inequity of land tax and its intent to abolish land tax over a five-year period.
The Tasmanian Government then relented, and in its 2010-11 budget, announced a substantial change to policy, making land tax applicable to properties with a land value of at least $350,000 – up from $25,000. In addition, the tax rate was reduced from 2.0 cents in the dollar to 1.5 cents.
The strategic and professional campaign led by Font was widely lauded as responsible for redressing what had been an inequitable and unfair taxation policy.