Bushfire victims let down over stamp duty

With donated furniture in their new home in Springwood, John and Joan McKay feel grateful, but like their former neighbours, Tony and Jenny Foster, the bushfire victims from Winmalee were hoping against hope the state government would have spared them stamp duty on the new homes they bought this year.

John and Joan McKay outside their new home in Springwood with their former Winmalee neighbours Jenny and Tony Foster.

John and Joan McKay outside their new home in Springwood with their former Winmalee neighbours Jenny and Tony Foster.

The McKays spent $21,600 on stamp duty to purchase their home near Faulconbridge and the Fosters shelled out $30,000 in duty for their older Springwood home close to town. Had they been a victim of the Victorian bushfires, it’s a price they wouldn’t have had to pay.

“I did expect Roza Sage to advocate more on my behalf,” said Mr Foster, a 66-year-old part-time school bus driver, said.

“We were fully insured, but we were not insured for the stamp duty” Mr McKay, a retired maths teacher, 81, said.

Both couples had generous-sized homes that they had built themselves and did not have the funds to rebuild the same properties in the bushfire zone. But they said they were also hit hard by an “over-inflated real estate market” and felt that they didn’t have the energy to build again.

“If I’d been 10 years younger I would have done it in a heartbeat,” said Mr McKay.

“Mine was an architect-designed solar passive home from 1979, I couldn’t replace it, all that glass,” Mr Foster added.

The Fosters sold their block — “the government would have got stamp duty there too” — two months ago, but the McKays are holding on to theirs until more families rebuild.

“When it doesn’t look like a war zone we’ll sell. It’s our superannuation,” Mrs McKay said. 

Both couples estimate they spent $100,000 over what their properties were worth due to many other families looking for a home.

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