Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2013 Week 3 Hansard (26 February) . . Page.. 734..
MADAM SPEAKER: Order, members! Mr Gentleman has asked a question, and Mr Barr has not been able to actually get around to answering the question. There has been a bit of around the world for sixpence. You might like to answer the question.
MR BARR: Thank you, Madam Speaker. Yes, it is important to invest in renewable technologies. The government has put in place a robust policy framework that is nation leading, and we are very pleased with the outcomes to date.
Budget—lease variation charge
MR SMYTH: My question is to the Treasurer. The budget review on page 9 states:
Conveyance duty revenue has been revised downwards across the budget and forward estimates predominantly reflecting the ongoing moderation in the property market ...
Treasurer, over the four-year estimates, gross revenue from land sales is forecast to decrease by $287.4 million compared to the estimates provided in the 2012-13 budget. Revenue from the duty is forecast to fall by $47.2 million in the same period. Treasurer, can you please explain to the Assembly why the government supports the lease variation charge when the negative impacts on the property market are clear?
MR BARR: Because it is an excellent tax. It taxes windfall gains that are achieved when development rights are extended. Under our leasehold system you are granted, when you purchase a lease, a certain level of development right. And if there is a policy change that significantly increases the development rights for that particular site, it is only fair and reasonable for some of that uplift in value to be returned to the community via a lease variation charge. The principle of a betterment tax has been in place in this territory for some time—
Mr Corbell: A very long time.
MR BARR: A very long time indeed.
Mr Corbell: Supported by governments of both persuasions.
MR BARR: Yes, as my colleague indicates, supported by governments of both persuasions. So if it is now the position of the Liberal Party that they do not support any form of betterment tax, let us hear that. That is not the position that they took to the last election but if there is a new policy shift, even though with Mr Hanson it is pretty much Zed-lite; the only thing that is different is the style—
Mr Hanson: I will give you some policies on RiotACT, Andrew; you can pop in like Katy did.
MR BARR: I always look forward to your contributions on RiotACT, Mr Hanson. But if this is the policy change from the Liberal Party, this is probably about the 10th time you have asked me this question across the last few question times and the public accounts hearings.