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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 1 Hansard (15 February) . .

Page.. 232..


Our rates base is our most predictable, reliable, efficient form of taxation revenue available to us. Yes, we are switching towards that and switching away from bad taxes, like taxes on people's insurance products, their home contents insurance, their motor vehicle insurance, their life insurance, their building insurance or, in the business world, their business insurance. That tax has been abolished.

Yes, we are phasing out stamp duty. We do not want people who are forced to move house because they might have a new child and need a bigger house, those who are entering into the housing market for the first time or those who are downsizing to have to pay a massive stamp duty. Our approach does contrast in the world of competitive federalism, as the Leader of the Opposition indicated in his speech.

If you move to New South Wales to buy a property you will be hit up-front with a very large stamp duty. If you have to borrow to pay that stamp duty, then you will be paying the mortgage interest cost on that over the life of your loan. The Housing Industry Association has estimated that that is worth about $1,000 a year in interest payments on stamp duty. So think about that for a moment: that is the change that we are seeking to achieve, to switch away from these bad, inefficient taxes to a fairer model.

Not everyone will agree with that approach. That is clear. But every economist, every review of taxation in this nation over the last four decades, has recommended this approach. The Prime Minister of Australia, your Liberal leader, publicly commended the ACT for adopting this approach. He made the observation that it was 11 out of 10 on the political difficulty rating but that it was the right thing to do.

That is what we are doing, making that change gradually over a 20-year period. We do so because we value government service provision and being able to provide for the health, education, community service, municipal service, emergency service needs of this growing community. If the evidence was that people were leaving Canberra in droves then we would not, in the last census period, during the period of this tax reform, have had the largest population increase of any state or territory. Last year—

Members interjecting—

Ms Berry: Madam Speaker, point of order, please.

MADAM SPEAKER: Members, Mr Coe was allowed to be heard in peace, so I ask that you offer that to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister.

MR BARR: Thank you, Madam Speaker. Last year, our city's population grew by a level that we have not seen for some decades. Mr Coe referred to additional revenue that the government received. Yes, that is true. What has happened is that our population increase has led to us finally receive our appropriate share of the national GST pool. That boost in population from people who are coming to live in Canberra was recognised a few years later by the updated census data. So we have been incurring the expenses in health, education, community and municipal services but not receiving the GST revenue.


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