Page 783 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 28 March 2023

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Minister will not tell the people in Canberra is that, rather than it being a result of some sort of great economic management by the government, it is because Mr Barr’s revenue bucket is being topped up with millions and millions of dollars in increased tax revenue that he is collecting from Canberrans!

What this budget review shows is that every Canberran is paying more tax. Small businesses, employees, renters and homebuyers will all be paying more tax to Mr Barr over the forward estimates.

The revised figures show that revenue collected from land tax will increase by nearly $60 million over the forward estimates; revenue collected from payroll tax will increase by $205 million over the forward estimates; revenue collected from commercial conveyancers will increase by nearly $50 million over the forward estimates; and, to add insult to injury, revenue collected from stamp duty will increase by more than $23 million over the forward estimates—and that is a tax that the Treasurer promised he was going to abolish in his tax reform agenda!

You may well remember that tax reform agenda. That was done from the Quinlan review. Ted Quinlan, a former Treasurer in this place and a bit of a mentor to Mr Barr, is famous for his quote, “Tax them until they bleed but not until they die”. Mr Barr is a good student. He has taken Mr Quinlan’s quote and, by God, he has implemented that on the people of Canberra! He is very good at taking money out of Canberrans’ pockets and putting it into the government coffers.

But it gets worse. By 2025-26, Canberrans will be paying over $520 million a year in interest on Mr Barr’s borrowings. That is $1.4 million a day just to pay off the interest bill that this government will have racked up.

So we have hundreds of millions in extra tax dollars being paid by Canberrans, but what are we getting for it? What are we getting for it, members? I will tell you what we are getting. We are getting a health system that is in absolute disarray. As the Canberra Times editorial of Saturday said, “There are systemic failures across the ACT health system on a depressingly regular basis.” On almost every statistic—for example, in the emergency department, and we just had a debate on colonoscopy and endoscopy—this is a health system that is failing. Elective surgery waiting times are outrageous.

But we know why, do we not? It is because in 2011 this government put money into the budget to rebuild the Canberra Hospital—$41 million into the budget, with $375 million into the out-years—and then they got into government with the Greens after the 2012 election and ripped that money out of the health system and put it on the tram! We are all scratching our heads while the health system is in a crisis! These are deliberate decisions that have been made by this government that we are paying the price for now.

The Minister for Health was spruiking the wonders of what is happening at the Canberra Hospital. It is negligence personified to come into this place and spruik a building that is a lesser building than the one that was proposed by Katy Gallagher over a decade ago that this government cancelled. It is shameful!


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