Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (26 June) . . Page.. 2551..
Ordered that executive business be called on.
Revenue Legislation Amendment Bill 2003 (No 2)
Debate resumed from 24 June 2003, on motion by Mr Quinlan:
That this bill be agreed to in principle.
MR SMYTH(Leader of the Opposition) (11.49): Mr Speaker, this replacement bill seeks to implement two revenue measures in the ACT: namely, changes proposed to the taxation of corporate reconstruction arrangements and to the taxing of gaming machine revenues.
The first proposal concerns conveyance duty on the transfer of assets. On the one hand, this proposal appears sensible in that it removes a distinction between assets that are "land rich"and other assets. In principle, this is a good move because it removes a distinction between classes of assets.
It is also welcome because it would replace a policy that operates on an exemption basis with a policy that should be more definite and transparent in its application. From our perspective it is far preferable in principle to have taxation legislation that operates on positive parameters rather than through the provision of exemptions, where administrative discretion may become a factor in the application of a taxing policy.
Having acknowledged the merits of having a positive taxation policy, I do note that even this proposal has its own complexities. I see that clause 7 of the bill relates to concessional duty for motor vehicle registration applications. Why is it necessary to include a specific provision in relation to motor vehicles and not for any other asset that may be caught up in corporate reconstructions? I am sure there is a simple answer, Mr Speaker, and perhaps the Treasurer will enlighten us in his wrap up.
Mr Speaker, of more general concern, however, is the quality of the government's explanatory statements that accompany proposed legislation. These statements typically do not contain sufficient information in support of the measures that they are meant to be explaining. The explanatory statement for this bill is simply another example where we, as members of the Assembly, are not given sufficient information about legislative proposals in the first instance. It should not be necessary for us to ask, almost as a matter of course, for briefings on or seek other explanations of proposed legislation. For instance, I would like the Treasurer to respond to my question in relation to the inclusion of motor vehicles in this bill.
Mr Speaker, the argument is made by the government that this proposal brings the ACT into line with New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland, and you have to ask why? Clearly there is merit in aligning appropriate policies that apply in the ACT with those that apply in New South Wales. However, we are only aligning up to a point, because the threshold in the ACT will be lower than that which applies in New South