Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 7 Hansard (22 August) . . Page.. 1848..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
levels. We are right in the middle on taxation levels. We tax at the average level across Australia. I do not have the numbers with me. Ours is an average taxing effort. We are not a high taxing jurisdiction, despite the efforts of particularly the property council in relation the fire levy and of the real estate institute in relation to land tax.
Everybody has their favourite little tax. Chris Peters would want us to abolish payroll tax. The property council wants us to abolish the fire levies. The real estate institute wants us to abolish land tax. Everybody can find a tax that they want us to attack. Everybody has their favourite. But across the board, in a jurisdiction such as ours, with a narrow economic base—
Mr Smyth: Well, what have you done to broaden it?
MR STANHOPE: We have no mines. We have not yet been able to attract a uranium mining export licence. Our gold and silver mines are not producing particularly well. Our reserves of coal are yet to be discovered. Iron ore is not doing too well for us. The woolclip has not come in. The wheat fields are not doing too great. Ours is a narrow service based economy. We have no mines. We have no agricultural industry. Fifty per cent of our agricultural production is from a single chook farm. Pace farms constitutes 50 per cent of the entire ACT agricultural output. We are an economy with a very narrow base.
I find it remarkable that the property council and the real estate institute—indeed, the Liberal Party—decry the fact that we have a reliance on property for our taxation effort. Identify within the context of the ACT economy that other source of taxation revenue available to us. What is it? Do you anticipate the discovery of mineral wealth here within the territory? Is that what you anticipate? Is that what you are going to base your policies on? I find it remarkable that anybody in the ACT, understanding the nature of this economy, its narrowness, would suggest that we should not have the degree of reliance on property that we do. Give me your insight into what, if not property, we use for revenue?
When you take the suite of revenue measures that are pursued within the territory and measure it against every other state and territory in Australia, ours is right at the average. It is right in the middle of all the states and territories. That is our taxation effort. Yet, on the basis of that, on the strength of an average level of taxation, we continue to invest in government service delivery a mile ahead of the national average. At one level, of course, that is a sign of the success of this government's economic management. We have delivered the strongest balance sheet and the largest cash surplus in ACT government history. (Time expired.)
MS PORTER: My question is to the Minister for Education and Training. Has a principal been named to lead the new $23 million P-6 school in the Gungahlin suburb of Harrison?
MR BARR: I thank Ms Porter for her ongoing interest in education in the ACT. I am pleased to advise the Assembly that I have formally announced Mr Dennis Yarrington as the principal of the new school in Harrison. Mr Yarrington brings to this new