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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 7 Hansard (29 June) . . Page.. 2932..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

We all know that the Treasurer first mentioned this proposal in the budget in 2003 for the 2003-04 year and we learnt that no homework had been done. The Treasurer and his officials had no idea how many spaces would be included in the policy; they had no idea about any exemptions from this tax; and I think it was evident from the Treasurer's stumbling at the relevant estimates hearing that they had done little to develop the proposal beyond thinking it was a good idea and putting the money in the bottom line.

Since then the government has undertaken a substantial consultation program to try to develop a useful policy for the parking space tax but unfortunately the documents do not advance the Treasurer's cause very much and do not elaborate at all on how it will be put into place. I think people will be worried that you are including the revenue but not raising the tax. Also, you have refused to reveal the details of the tax before the coming election. My prediction is that, if they were to win, there will be a mini-budget straight after the election to slug the people of the ACT with fees, fines and charges.

MS DUNDAS (6.28): Mr Speaker, last year the budget was heralded by dire predictions from the Treasurer and the Chief Minister about the state of the ACT budget bottom line, due mainly to the cost of the January bushfires. Some mention was also made of reduced stock market earnings. The fires were the reason why many areas of acute need were not funded-we were balancing our priorities. However, it became apparent over the year that revenue projections from stamp duty and land sales were grossly underestimated.

This year's budget has again been delivered with dire predictions for reduced revenue and so, once again, we must ask whether or not those predictions will prove to be true. I will leave the argument about what is an economic cycle to the schoolboys at the front of the room but there are some things that I think are missing from the ACT Treasury portfolio, and that includes what we are doing in relation to the insurance crisis, because it has not gone away. Small community and sporting organisations and some small businesses are still closing down or cutting back their activities due to the cost of insurance. The only help they have been offered by the government is assistance with preparing a risk minimisation plan. But even after doing that, some groups still face unaffordable costs. So it would have been good to see an offer from the government to underwrite some of the community events that contribute so much to our community.

Once again, we have seen the reform of the stamp duty concession scheme and this round of reform does look a lot better than the last round. However, I still am concerned that families are missing out on concessions to buy houses that are big enough to accommodate them. So, there is still room for improvement there.

I think the Department of Treasury has quite a few things to look at over the next financial year, specifically in relation to how budget papers are presented and how initiatives are reported. We look forward to seeing how that work progresses.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Sitting suspended from 6.31 to 8.00 pm

Proposed expenditure-part 1.7-central financing unit, $11,687,000 (payments on behalf of the territory), totalling $11,687,000.

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