UPDATED: The mental health levy is set to pass Parliament, with six crossbench MPs confirming to The Age they supported the tax.
The government needs the support of at least three crossbench MPs in the upper house to pass the legislation, which will impose a levy on businesses with a wages bill of greater than $10 million nationally to fix the state’s “broken mental health system”.
Greens deputy leader Ellen Sandell said: “The Greens welcome this long overdue investment in our mental health system, a system that needs urgent reform. And asking big businesses who made a lot of money during the pandemic to help fund this reform is the right thing to do.”
Animal Justice Party MP Andy Meddick said: “The theme of the government’s budget is to support vulnerable Victorians and ensure that no one is left behind in our recovery from the extraordinary dislocation of the pandemic. Asking the big end of town to pay a little extra to ensure this happens seems a reasonable approach by a progressive government.”
Transport Matters Party MP Rod Barton said: “I will support it. We have a mental health crisis here in Victoria. Given how the levy is being applied to businesses with a payroll tax over $10 million – that still puts us as one of the best performing for payroll tax in the country.”
While independent MP Catherine Cumming said the levy “does not make sense whatsoever”.
Liberal Democrats spokesman said: “Tim Quilty and David Limbrick have indicated they are concerned about the new mental health tax on payroll and the impact it will have on jobs – because payroll taxes cost jobs, and unemployment would be bad for mental health. They will seek more information from the Government.”
Reason Party MP Fiona Patten said: “I am in support of the mental health levy. It’s fine, and it’s a good step forward. However, we’d like to see the government spend more on building houses, and not prison.”
A spokeswoman for Stuart Grimley and Tania Maxwell from Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party said the MPs will support the bill, but added: “Jobs and secure work are one of the most important factors of good mental health, so we hope this tax won’t deter employers from doing business in Victoria and employing more people.”
A spokesman for Shooters and Fishers Party MP Jeff Bourman said they would analyse the details of the announcement before landing on a position.
Opposition leader Michael O’Brien had said he would lobby the crossbench to vote against it.
The Age contacted all crossbench MPs and is awaiting a response.