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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 10 Hansard (17 October) . . Page.. 3008..

Utilities (Network Facilities Tax) Repeal Bill 2007

Mr Mulcahy, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (11.26): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

It is my great pleasure to introduce into this Assembly the Utilities (Network Facilities Tax) Repeal Bill 2007, a bill to relieve a small part of the massive burden of taxation that has been imposed on ACT taxpayers by this government in its term of office. Despite the fact that revenues have been far above expected figures, the government has continued to show a substantial reluctance, indeed even obstinacy in the face of widespread complaints about the increasing levels of taxation in the ACT. It does therefore fall to the opposition to take the initiative and introduce a bill that would go some way towards reducing the tax burden in the territory—the tax burden on families and people on fixed incomes, ordinary Canberrans who have said that enough is enough.

By introducing this bill to the Assembly, I invite members of the government to reconsider their determination to tax away the incomes of Canberra families and instead join with the opposition in taking a first concrete step to smaller, less invasive, lower taxing government in the Australian Capital Territory—a position which the Liberal party in this territory is absolutely and solidly committed to.

The utilities (network facilities) tax, also known simply as the utilities tax, was introduced by the ACT government in the 2006-07 budget and came into effect in January 2007. The tax has applied to utility providers, including providers of water, electricity, gas and telecommunications services in the ACT. It is a clever tax, given the number of people who have now got internet connections and the like, and people are finding themselves hit on a whole manner of utilities when they receive their accounts.

The government conceded at the time that these costs would be passed on to ACT consumers. They certainly can be acknowledged as the initiators of that and their predictions have come to pass. However, the government have argued that the increased charges passed on to consumers as a result of this tax will better reflect the true cost of delivering services.

This is a meaningless argument. It is absurd for the government to talk about the true cost of services as they add a layer of taxation on top of the existing costs. Of course, as expected, this tax has increased the cost of utility services for ACT residents, adding more to their utility bills each year. This increase comes on top of the widespread increases in taxation introduced by the ACT Labor government, including the creation of the fire and emergency services levy and increases in the levels of rates and charges based on the wage price index.

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