Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 4 Hansard (8 April) . . Page.. 1110..
MS GALLAGHER (continuing):
counselling and the child health medical officer. Therapy ACT has speech and physio drop-in services on a monthly basis. Relationships Australia is involved. Child and adolescent services provide outreach from the centres when they are required. But they also run a number of drop-in information and education sessions such as parenting information, parents as teachers, individual case management if it is required and group programs such as the PPP.
Whilst we often talk about the child and family centres in here, I think these will be a key legacy of the Stanhope government, particularly our second term, where we have opened two child and family centres and the success of these centres now is undeniable. There are 479 families who have accessed the child and family centres in the last quarter—479 families, 142 parenting sessions and 64 community education sessions. Never before in the ACT have we been able to offer families the range of services in a one-stop location that we can offer in Gungahlin and Tuggeranong. What we will be doing is taking the lessons we have learned from those—the successes, the connections we have made with business and community organisations—and looking to build on that as the four new early childhood schools open next year.
MS MacDONALD: My question is to the Treasurer. Treasurer, much has been said in recent weeks about the territory's taxation levels in relation to those of other jurisdictions. Can you explain to the Assembly the basis on which the government can claim that this is not a high-taxing jurisdiction?
MR STANHOPE: I thank Ms MacDonald for the question. Indeed, there has been much, and continuing, discussion about the territory's taxation. The government's claim that the ACT is not a high-taxing jurisdiction is based essentially on advice from the Commonwealth Grants Commission and the Australian Bureau of Statistics and their regular reports.
It is important to remember in any discussion on taxation that the important point is that it has to do with reference to something. Discussion of taxation in absolute terms and without a context does not mean anything. There is more than one reference point that the government can use to argue that it is not a high-taxing jurisdiction.
Taxation serves a purpose. It provides the capacity to deliver the sorts of services that Ms Gallagher just spoke about in relation to our Australian first, and unique, child and family service provision. But, given the context, expenditure effort is an important reference point. The ACT government's level and quality of services are exceptional. Data from the Commonwealth Grants Commission indicate that the territory's level of service provision is the highest in Australia, at 122 per cent. In the context of expenditure on services, it is reasonable to ask whether the services are being delivered efficiently. Of course, as I indicated in response to an earlier question, members would be aware that built within our budget estimates is more than $100 million per annum of efficiencies.
Another reference point would be the amount of taxation revenue relative to tax-raising capacity. This is a pertinent concept in the discussion of taxation—how much