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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 2 Hansard (19 March) . . Page.. 532..


Construction industry—development conditions

Debate resumed.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (3.44): This is a very important motion. I thank Mr Coe for bringing it on today, because what it does is highlight the government's failure to plan properly for the economic future of the ACT and therefore employment in the ACT, prosperity in the ACT and the future of the city. It is because of government policy—for instance, the current formula for commence and complete fees which was introduced in 2008 and the introduction of the lease variation charge in 2011—that we have now seen the enormous backflip and the total embarrassment of the Treasurer because his reforms are not working.

As Mr Coe pointed out this morning, when asked about the lease variation charge Mr Barr said, "The lease variation charge is excellent public policy and will not be changed." Yet here we are today discussing the changes to this supposedly excellent piece of public policy. But what else did Mr Barr have to say about the lease variation charge? Again, in a public accounts committee meeting, I pointed out that the revenue had not been met in a single quarter, except for the first quarter where there was a holdover from the old system. I asked on 3 December last year:

Is it now not time to review the lease variation charge, its effectiveness and whether or not it is actually working with the intention the government put in place?

Mr Barr says:

Let us step through each of those. The LVC in principle is almost the most perfect tax that could be designed.

I say:

Perfect tax?

He responds:

Yes, perfect tax.

I said:

I am sure the property sector will be pleased to hear that.

It is interesting that the perfect tax is now not so perfect, that we have got a minister who is forced to come back into this place, through the Chief Minister in this case, and announce that they have set up a stimulus package. Let us look at the changes to the perfect tax and the winding back of the commence and complete fees and see what effect they will have. We have it from the Chief Minister's own words yesterday. I asked her about her comments from 2009, those immortal words that the ACT government was too small to stimulate the economy. The Chief Minister said:


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