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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 13 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 3950..

MR GENTLEMAN (continuing):

Assembly and interested stakeholders to contact my office or the committee secretary if they wish to participate, or participate further, in the inquiry. To participate is to engage in the broader global movement towards sustainability.

Utilities (Network Facilities Tax) Bill 2006

Mr Stanhope, by leave, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Business and Economic Development, Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Minister for the Arts) (10.41): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

The Utilities (Network Facilities Tax) Bill 2006 establishes a tax on owners of utility network facilities on land within the ACT and amends the Taxation Administration Act 1999. The purpose of the amendment is to include the Utilities (Network Facilities) Tax Act 2006 as a tax law.

This bill facilitates the implementation of an important component of the territory's budget strategy for 2006-07 and the future. This is one of the revenue measures that will enable us to continue to deliver the important services the community expects and demands.

Key public services can only be maintained if we have the financial resources to do so. As the Assembly is aware, the government has embarked on a comprehensive program to cut costs across the public sector, but we also need to raise sufficient revenues.

This important revenue measure was announced in the 2006-07 budget as the utility land use permit. After consulting with utility companies, the government has decided to use its existing taxation infrastructure to collect the new charge on network facilities.

The charge will be applied as a tax on ownership. This is because the charge can be applied far more simply this way, with less administrative burden for the utilities, rather than through a more complex permit system. In particular, it will remove the burden on utilities of separately identifying and measuring their networks on unleased land.

The application of this new charge will be more comprehensive than similar charges imposed elsewhere, by including all utilities—electricity, gas, water, sewerage and telecommunications. However, there are precedents for governments imposing charges on network infrastructure. For example, in Victoria a land tax has applied since 2004 on electricity transmission easements held by electricity transmission companies.

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