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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 2 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 158..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

I note that the Auditor-General's Office strongly supports the proposed modifications of its role in relation to reportable contracts. I also note that the proposed changes do not in any way diminish the Auditor-General's existing powers, under the Auditor-General Act 1996, to obtain documents, including contracts, from agencies or to provide reports to the Legislative Assembly.

Related changes to contract disclosure thresholds, including through lowering the value of contracts to be reported on the central contracts register to $20,000, will increase the timeliness of the provision of information to the public and to the Assembly on a wide range of lower value contracts. This will further enhance the transparency and accountability of ACT government procurement activities.

As I have previously advised the Assembly, the existing statutory framework and the Government Procurement Board have made significant contributions to enhancing the professionalism of ACT government procurement activities and public confidence in those activities. However, as I have also advised this Assembly, there is scope to improve the operations of the Government Procurement Act 2001 and the associated statutory instruments. This is an important focus of the provisions of the Government Procurement Amendment Bill 2007. Given the importance of efficient, robust procurement activities in enabling the delivery of quality public services, I commend to the Assembly the proposals contained in the Government Procurement Amendment Bill 2007.

Debate (on motion by Mr Mulcahy ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Rates Amendment Bill 2006 (No 2)

Debate resumed from 14 December 2006, on motion by Mr Stanhope:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (10.45): The opposition will not be supporting the Rates Amendment Bill 2006 (No 2). The bill establishes a mechanism for the collection of the city heart levy. This levy will be an unfair imposition on city businesses, and any benefits that flow from the levy will apply only to a narrow section of the business community and will discriminate against others.

When introducing this bill back in December, the Chief Minister said:

The revenue collected from the levy will specifically fund the implementation of a marketing and improvements program for the city centre, as well as providing a cleaner, safer and more attractive location for Canberrans and visitors to Canberra to enjoy.

Obviously, we are keen to see a cleaner and safer Civic, but we do not believe that that approach should be achieved through this taxation measure. The opposition has a number of concerns with the Chief Minister's statement, not least the fact that the ACT government already collects an ever increasing amount in rates and other government charges from commercial properties in the city centre.

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