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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 4372..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

The fourth amendment relates to the current prohibition on the registration of instruments where duty has not been paid. Provisions in this bill extend that prohibition to also apply to dutiable transactions (where there may not be an instrument) and to cases where the transfer is made by electronic means.

In addition, Mr Speaker, this bill also provides for an amendment that is not in line with the New South Wales Duties Act. This amendment relates to share buybacks by unlisted public companies. It should be noted that the ACT exemption for the buyback of shares is limited to public companies and, in this way, has differed from the New South Wales provision since the commencement of the Duties Act.

The other major difference is that the New South Wales definition of "transfer"does not include a reference to a buyback of shares whereas the ACT definition of "transfer"includes a buyback of shares and, as such, all buybacks are liable to duty.

When the Duties Act was introduced, the buyback of shares in a territory company, which was a listed public company, was intended to be exempt from the duty under certain conditions. However, the word "listed"was not included in the provision and the current exemption is broader than intended and applies to all public companies.

To correct this omission and implement the original intention it is no longer necessary to make the buyback of shares for a "listed"public company exempt from duty. Such an exemption would be ineffective as all duty on the transfer of quoted marketable securities was abolished from 1 July 2001.

This bill, Mr Speaker, removes the exemption for the buyback of shares so that an unlisted public company is no longer exempt from duty. This is in line with the original policy intention and the removal of the exemption has no impact upon the buyback of shares in a private company which was, and continues to be, liable to duty.

There are two other provisions in this bill, Mr Speaker. The Commissioner for ACT Revenue already has the power to have property valued if he/she is not satisfied with the valuation provided, and to pass the cost of obtaining that value on to the lessee. The provisions in this bill extend the commissioner's power, under certain conditions, to include obtaining a valuation as at the time a Crown lease is granted, and to recover the cost of obtaining such a valuation.

Another provision ensures that duty is only charged on the additional land when the previous lessee is regranted all or part of surrendered land along with the additional land.

Mr Speaker, I commend the Duties Amendment Bill to the Assembly, and I am sure everybody is much clearer on its intent after what I have just said.

Debate (on motion by Mr Smyth ) adjourned to the next sitting.

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