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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 10 Hansard (17 October) . . Page.. 3145..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

relation to rates, taxes and charges around the nation, or between jurisdictions. In the context of taxes and charges levied, I think it is more informative to go to some of those commentaries or analyses from, for instance, the grants commission or the Australian Bureau of Statistics in relation to taxation effort or revenue effort, or the extent to which different jurisdictions tax and the level and rate at which they tax, their relative revenue and the relative effort they put into revenue raising. The fact remains that, traditionally-indeed, until this budget perhaps-we had not exercised the same level of effort or energy in terms of our taxation capability or capacity as other jurisdictions around Australia.

When one compares the full suite of charges, including land tax, across the nation with all other rates, charges, taxes and fees that are levied, the ACT is not a high taxing or high charging jurisdiction, despite the fact that we have traditionally delivered government services at around 20 per cent above the national average; and considering, of course, relative levels of disposable income within the territory.

There is a whole range of charges-I am more than happy to make them available; indeed, I am sure the shadow treasurer has them-in which one can compare levels of land tax. But then again, of course, it does not take into account the fact that in Victoria, for instance, which there is some fondness for comparing the ACT's land tax rate with, there are different mechanisms in place and different rules applying to the adding together or incretion of properties so that the tax threshold is reached far more quickly. The land tax in the ACT is levied on individual properties and there is no adding together of the value of a range of properties that an investor might have for the purpose of land tax, unlike Victoria.

In Victoria the sum total of property subject to land tax is added, the threshold is reached immediately and land tax changes dramatically. You cannot just say, "Land tax in the ACT is this amount or this per cent and in Victoria it is this amount or this per cent"without taking into account a range of other aspects of the way in which the charge is computed and the way in which it is required to be paid. The best basis on which to compare revenue effort within the territory is, of course, to look at the full suite of taxes, charges and fees that are levied and compare that as a full suite of taxes and charges against the full range of taxes and charges which apply in other jurisdictions. One finds, on that analysis, that this is not a high taxing regime. Our revenue effort is essentially the same.

Of course, different constituencies will argy bargy around, "Reduce land tax"-those within the property industry will say-"and charge it somewhere else."We see the property council now, for instance, waging a quite vigorous campaign. "It is all very well to apply a fire and emergency services levy to households domestically; just do not apply it commercially."

The property council says, "Look, we are really happy for you to impose a fire levy, just do not impose it on commercial property owners."That is the property council's solution to the fire levy-a levy which is applied in every state in Australia. I think the only place in Australia that now does not apply a fire levy is the Northern Territory.

MR MULCAHY: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Does the Treasurer believe that land tax reform would encourage more investment in the rental market in the ACT?


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