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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (20 August) . . Page.. 2455..

MR STANHOPE: Mr Speaker, I am pleased to present the government's second legislation program. The focus of this program is on continuing the Labor government's drive for delivering its agenda promised at the last election for better financial management and governance of the territory. This program is also responsive to meeting community interests and concerns.

Mr Speaker, in the time available I'll attempt to comment on only a few items that are a priority for the government, notwithstanding that members may be interested in other items.

A key Labor election promise was a commitment to responsible and sustainable financial management. In this regard the government in June introduced to the Assembly its second budget, which will be debated next week. For information, I advise that the government will move amendments to its Appropriation Bill 2002-2003 to reflect changed departmental arrangements for the recently establishment of the new Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services.

New legislation is to be introduced to further improve responsible financial management. This will include the Financial Management Amendment Bill 2002. It arises from a review of the Financial Management Act 1996 and, together with other amendments proposed to the same act, will deal with the key role of the territory's banking account and administration of investments and borrowings of the territory. This will provide a framework that has appropriate legislative controls, while allowing for investment and borrowing practices which will minimise costs and maximise returns for the territory.

The Business Enterprise and Authorities (Tax Equivalents) Bill 2002 will reform the income tax equivalents regime applied to a number of ACT government authorities. The territory established a taxation equivalent regime as part of its commitment under the national competition principles agreement to ensure all government businesses are competitively neutral.

This bill will cover those government authorities which to date have been required, by legislation, to pay income tax equivalents but which, under a new regime now administered by the Australian Taxation Office, will no longer be required to do so. Under this bill a number of amendments will also be made to the Territory Owned Corporations Act, provisions which deal with the now defunct wholesale sales tax regime.

A bill is also proposed to amend the Duties Act 1999 to address anomalies in relation to the liability for duty when a Crown lease is granted or transferred. It will also clarify who can determine the unencumbered value of a Crown lease when it is granted and will align the Duties Act to the New South Wales Duties Act where appropriate.

In response to problems in the Australian insurance market, the government earlier today introduced a Civil Law (Wrongs) Bill as a first step in a coherent three-stage ACT reform program. The wrongs bill will consolidate tort law in the ACT and introduce a range of reforms to the law promoting accessibility and balance. The wrongs bill will serve as a platform, in the later second and third stages, to allow the ACT to adopt other desirable reforms that will eventuate as national developments occur.

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