Can one afford to die in Victoria?

10 July, 2024

While Victoria doesn’t yet have a death tax, the cost of enacting wills is set to soar by up to 650%. Under a new model under consideration, the Supreme Court’s probate office could collect over 1000% more in fees than it costs to operate, with the surplus funding other court activities. This follows a $20 million cut to Court Services Victoria’s budget, with the extra $33 million expected from increased probate fees aimed to offset these cuts. Victorians already face various taxes, and now even death will contribute to the state’s budget woes.

Victoria’s debt is projected to reach $27,000 per person by 2028, making it the worst in the country. With limited options to reduce debt, the government is looking everywhere for revenue, including increased probate fees. Assistant Treasurer Danny Pearson, a proponent of death duties, fast-tracked the probate fee review initially due in 2027. Pearson has expressed his support for death duties, suggesting a portion of estates should support state funding. He believes it would be reasonable for a portion of an estate to go to the state to ensure a progressive community for future generations.

Meanwhile, hospitals across Victoria are cutting millions from their budgets. Ambulance Victoria and the Alfred Hospital are reducing roles and considering asset sales. Despite claims of additional funding, public health services remain underfunded. Workers report insufficient money for hospitals, ambulances, and community health services, painting a grim picture of the state’s healthcare system.

The Suburban Rail Loop, Victoria’s largest transport project, has seen costs balloon from $50 billion to at least $125 billion. Despite the economic strain and service cuts, the government remains committed to the project, raising questions about its priorities. The project, initially announced with a $50 billion price tag for the entire 90 km loop around Melbourne, has now escalated to an estimated $200 billion if fully built. The government is currently committed only to the first stage, at an estimated cost of $30-34 billion.

As debt rises and services suffer, Victorians are left to wonder if the Allan government is making the right choices. The economic burden on Victorians is growing, with increased taxes and service cuts affecting the quality of life. The question remains whether the government’s current priorities align with the needs of its citizens, as the state navigates its challenging financial landscape.

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