Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 10 Hansard (17 October) . . Page.. 3144..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
I think we probably would have preferred that the parties had maintained the investment and the interest, but it is a commercial decision, based very much on a current glut of grapes in Australia and around the world. It is a commercial decision that Hardy has taken to rationalise some of its business. As well as the decision it has now taken in the ACT to divest itself of Kamberra, it has recently sold its wine-making interests in the Margaret River region.
Hardy's has made an impression on the quality of wine-making, the professionalism in viticulture as well as in the making of wines. Over recent years Kamberra the winery has essentially scooped the pool in the context of the top honours at the Canberra regional wine show. This is an indication of the professionalism and the quality of the product that it has managed to deliver.
There is significant interest within industry-within leading players in the Canberra wine industry-in the future of Kamberra. It is vital. The government is committed to working closely with the local industry to ensure that Kamberra is retained as a functioning, working winery, and to ensure that the integrity of the Kamberra facility is maintained and protected for the sake of the future of the industry here in Canberra.
The ongoing issue of some concern-it is an issue around Australia-is of grape contracts that Hardy had with a number of grape growers in the region. That is a continuing matter of concern. I am advised that Hardy has been very open and sensitive in its negotiations about the future of contracts it has. But there is lingering concern, particularly by those growers, about their future in terms of a future buyer for the crops.
There are some significant transitional issues that the industry needs to grapple with in terms of the time of the sale and the outcome of the potential sale. As I say, the industry is strong and confident. I am sure it is working together-certainly with the full support of the government-so that the winery can be protected and maintained as a vital piece of infrastructure for the industry here in the region.
MR MULCAHY: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Treasurer. Treasurer, on an average-priced home, land tax rates in the ACT are significantly higher than anywhere else in Australia. Why is this the case? Has the government considered aligning the ACT more closely to other Australian jurisdictions? If so, what impact do you believe such a move would have on the territory's bottom line?
MR STANHOPE: I thank the shadow Treasurer for the question. This has been a very live issue-an issue around which there has been lively debate over recent weeks, or perhaps indeed since the most recent budget. Of course, in the most recent budget the government did not change the rate of land tax that applies within the territory. But it is perhaps a matter of some particular interest that there has been a very significant focus on land tax since the budget, in spite of the fact that the budget did not touch or increase the level of land tax within the territory.
It is very difficult, as I am sure members are aware, to compare jurisdictions on a like-with-like basis. It is very difficult to create an apples-with-apples comparison in