Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (21 June) . . Page.. 2324..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
franchise fees on things such as petrol and tobacco, were wiped out, so any tax at all on petrol at the present time is a Commonwealth tax. To the extent that it has been retained by the Commonwealth, it is a reflection of a desire to try to standardise the amount of taxation which is imposed on petrol throughout Australia.
It is true that in Queensland a rebate is organised to petrol companies, which, in turn, is supposed to be passed on to consumers, representing a reflection of a lower tax regime that was previously in place in Queensland. That has not ever been the case in the ACT. Therefore, I think that asking the Commonwealth somehow to impose a lower tax in the ACT would not be warranted. My recollection is that it was a decision made Mr aine of the Alliance government to put 3c a litre on petrol. I recall that at the time Ms Follett, the then Leader of the Opposition, said-
Mr Kaine: It was for one year, for a special purpose.
MR HUMPHRIES: It was for a short period and Ms Follett was very critical of the decision to put on that tax, but when the year was up, or whatever period it was, and the government had changed, mysteriously the tax did not come off. I think that Mr Osborne will find that today the government does not have the power to impose taxes on petrol in any case.
MR BERRY: Mr Speaker, I would like to refer to House of Representatives Practice as quoted in the Auditor's report.
Mr Humphries: Is there a question to one of us in this, Mr Speaker?
MR BERRY: My question is to Mr Humphries. What do you think it is about?
Mr Humphries: Williamsdale quarry.
MR BERRY: Wrong.
MR SPEAKER: Is that your question?
MR BERRY: There are plenty more on that and I will come to them. The question is to the Chief Minister and it is about the Auditor's report. There will be more on the Williamsdale quarry later. I will save that up and let it brew for a while.
Mr Humphries: Perhaps you have exhausted the topic?
MR BERRY: No, no, no. Plenty more. Mr Speaker, House of Representatives Practice, as quoted in the Auditor-General's report, says that ministers are accountable to parliament if the action which stands condemned was theirs or was taken on their direction, or was an action with which they ought obviously to have been concerned. Mr Speaker, I refer to annexure A of the report, and I will only read the first couple of lines of each one of the dot points for the sake of brevity. The heading is "Unlawful actions". This refers to cabinet activities and so on. There have clearly been serious breaches of laws; breaches of law relating to expenditure of public funds; the payments