Michael Roddan of The Australian interviews Sam Kennard, Published on November 23rd, 2015.
Self-storage mogul Sam Kennard, the Liberal Democratic Party candidate vying for Joe Hockey’s recently abdicated North Sydney seat, says Australia should become a tax haven to encourage investment and job creation.
Mr Kennard, who is the managing director of the $1 billion self-storage company that bears his name, said a dramatically lower tax regime and less red tape would foster economic growth, even if it brought increased competition to the sector that Kennards Self Storage now dominates.
The comments came ahead of the North Sydney by-election, which takes place early next month, sparked by the retirement of former federal treasurer Joe Hockey.
Mr Kennard’s Liberal Democratic Party, one of 13 parties running for the seat, rose to prominence after outspoken NSW senator David Leyonhjelm was elected in 2013.
“I personally would like Australia to be a tax haven, the kind of place where companies want to set up their offices,” Mr Kennard told The Australian.
“It would encourage investment, job creation and high wage growth.
“Income is ultimately earned and tax is paid by individuals, so the tax take would still be strong,” he added.
Mr Kennard, who has long been interested in the ideas of small government, low tax and free markets, said he was drawn to politics “out of frustration” at the major parties who seemed to be “advocating more spending and higher tax and regulation”.
He said personal income taxes are “absurdly high” and Australia’s 30 per cent corporate tax rate left the country unable to compete internationally.
The Liberal Democratic Party’s policy is for a 20 per cent company tax, but Mr Kennard said that too could “eventually” be too high.
“Tax competition between countries is a really healthy thing and we shouldn’t be trying to get rid of that,” he said, adding that competitive federalism, where states compete with one another, could also help drive efficiencies.
In the off-chance that he gained office, Mr Kennard said he would oppose corporate subsidies, any preferential regulation, or crony capitalism “in any context”.
Moreover, he said, most regulation favoured incumbents which already dominate the market, and new red tape rules prevented small business from increasing competition in the marketplace.
“Regulation doesn’t benefit consumers — it makes it harder for competition to come in and generates higher prices and operating costs, and consumer’s suffer,” he said.
Mr Kennard added that he would advocate for policies that would increase competition in his own sector.
His self-storage business’s 84 facilities drew in revenues of $140 million last financial year, double that of his nearest rival National Storage, which drew in earnings of $69.7m in the same period.
“I’m an incumbent and I would love to see more competition,” Mr Kennard said. “I’ve got to be consistent here. If I’m saying I want to see more competition in the retail sector I’ve got to be willing to see it in my own sector.
“I want to be the guy who occupies the space that the Liberals should occupy but don’t — small government, lower taxes and more freedom,” he said.
“The Liberals are fairly hollow on those words.
“There’s going to be a big field and the vote is going to go in a bunch of different directions.”