Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (14 June) . . Page.. 1742..
MR SMYTH (continuing):
policy and is part of the core of the Conder group centre. The application was lodged on 19 April 2001 and is currently on public notification.
MR SMYTH: In response to Ms Tucker's question yesterday, I would like to provide the Assembly with the following details about the package offered to Prime Television: in the latter half of 1999 the ACT held discussions with Prime about its intentions to centralise its operations for the introduction of digital broadcasting. On 24 November 1999 the ACT wrote to Prime offering it an assistance package to encourage Prime to locate its digital broadcasting operation in the ACT. The offer comprised relief from payroll tax for all staff in excess of 25 for a period of up to five years, to a limit of $1.25 million; a direct grant, at market value, of the land adjoining Prime's existing ACT facility to accommodate Prime's new digital operations; and a further $50,000 payroll tax waiver to cover the cost of Prime's incorporation in the ACT.
Mr Speaker, it should also be noted by the Assembly that this incentive package was negotiated not only to promote business growth in the ACT but also to ensure that the ACT retained over 40 positions which it otherwise would have lost if the digital centre had been located elsewhere. The successful negotiation of the package also provided for additional work force growth and the development of a high-technology industry which would have spin-off economic benefits for the ACT. Payroll tax is currently levied at the rate of 6.85 per cent, with a tax-free threshold of $850,000. On 1 July 2001 the tax-free threshold will be raised to $1.25 million.
Mr Speaker, Prime wrote back on 7 December 1999 indicating its acceptance of the offer. Finalisation of the deal was to depend on finalising matters such as Prime's timing for completing its digital facility, commencing digital operations and moving staff to the ACT. The direct sale of the land at market value took place in 2000.
Prime initially anticipated commencement of digital broadcasts at the start of 2001. This has been revised to July 2001. The Prime facility was completed in May and officially opened on 24 May.
The finalisation of the contract has been held up pending determination of a suitable start date for the five-year period of the payroll tax waiver. That start date has now been determined to be 1 July, subject of course to having the agreement in place. Under the established procedures for ACTBIS grants, no payments or tax concessions are made until a formal agreement has been finalised. The agreement is now in the final stages of development and, subject to clearance by the ACT Government Solicitor's Office, will be signed in the near future.
I might also draw to the attention of members that information in relation to all assistance packages negotiated under the ACT business incentive scheme is published in the Chief Minister's annual report.