A push to remove a “tax on misery” has been reignited as increasing natural disasters drive up the cost of insurance, especially for vulnerable communities in WA’s north. Liberal MLC Neil Thomson will table a petition launched by Broome-based real estate company owner Tony Hutchinson to reduce or remove stamp duty on insurance. The State collects the tax, which is calculated at a rate of 10 per cent on the premium of general insurance. Mr Thomson said stamp duty on insurance was a “tax on misery” that had made it harder to find a house and do business in the north. “It’s a tax on the impacts of floods, fires and cyclones. And sadly, for people in the north, it’s a massive tax on doing business and living in the north,” he said. The Actuaries Institute reported that home insurance premiums had increased, nationally, by 28 per cent this year, but high-risk properties -- such as in flood-prone areas -- saw an increase of 50 per cent. The Broome-based MLC said people in his town were spending between $10k and $20k on insurance per year -- resulting in stamp duty of $1000 to $2000 -- and that many in the Kimberley were now foregoing insurance because it was unaffordable. “It’s a huge part of their disposable income,” Mr Thomson said. “Often they just choose not to insure and then that leads to further problems down the track when we have cyclones and other disasters. “This is something the Government has just ignored.” Mr Thomson said recent fires in Wanneroo showed rising insurance costs due to natural disasters were an issue “for the whole State”. In December, a mid-year budget review revealed an additional $600 million in insurance duty would pour into the State’s coffers over four years since the previous estimate in April of 2022. “That’s an enormous amount of windfall gain for the State from the terrible misery of the fires and floods across Australia that resulted in these increased rates,” Mr Thomson said. Added to this, predictions of increasingly severe weather due to climate change meant insurers were reluctant to take on clients in the north, the MP claimed. The petition, which closes on February 1, cites a 2020 Australian Competition and Consumer Commission report into insurance in northern Australia which recommended “the governments of Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland abolish stamp duty on home, contents and strata insurance products”. “At a minimum, those governments should reduce the tax burden on consumers in higher risk areas by levying stamp duties with reference to the sum insured level, rather than the premium,” the ACCC said three years ago. Mr Hutchinson, the owner of Hutchinson Real Estate Broome and chair of Real Estate Institute of WA Kimberley, said he was aware of dozens of people in Broome who had foregone insurance because it was too expensive in the past year. “Insurance costs have blown out completely up here over the last few years,” he said. “We’ve had some of our clients sell their investment properties. That means you’ve got less rental properties and higher rents. “I think some people are probably just taking the risk now of not insuring their home, which is of course fraught with danger.” A State Government spokesperson said the Government had “no current plans to change or alter the insurance duty”. “The State Government funds various disaster mitigation programs and provides the necessary assistance when natural disasters occur – including the recent allocation of $393 million in conjunction with the Commonwealth, to disaster recovery initiatives in response to Ex‑Tropical Cyclone Ellie,” they said.