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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 13 Hansard (14 December) . . Page.. 4131..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

Mr Speaker, the Rates Amendment Bill 2006 (No 2) amends the Rates Act 2004 to facilitate the collection of the city centre marketing and improvements levy. The revenue collected from the levy will specifically fund the implementation of a marketing and improvements program for the city centre, as well as providing a cleaner, safer and more attractive location for Canberrans and visitors to Canberra to enjoy. The levy was previously announced as the city heart levy in the 2005-06 budget. However, further work was required, and a revised initiative was included in the 2006-07 budget with a start date of 1 January 2007 and a projected collection amount of $0.6 million in 2006-07.

Mr Speaker, this bill simply provides a mechanism to collect the levy. I understand that the ACT Planning and Land Authority is currently consulting with property owners in the collection area to finalise the policy parameters for the levy. The government expects to be able to present greater detail on these processes next year.

It has been necessary to proceed with this legislation to ensure that changes to IT systems can be in place to collect the levy. The presentation of the bill at this time also provides property owners in the collection area with some certainty, allowing them to prepare in advance for the collection of the levy. The legislation provides for a commencement notice to activate it, allowing time to complete the consultation process. A commencement notice is a notifiable instrument.

The Rates Act was chosen as the legislative instrument to collect the levy as it already contains a mechanism to impose levies under schedule 1 of the act. It has been a relatively simple exercise to add the levy to this schedule. The inclusion of the levy in the Rates Act also has the advantage of bringing the levy under the existing legal framework for the administration of taxation matters in the ACT contained in the Taxation Administration Act 1999.

The levy will be raised as an annual charge on commercial property owners as a percentage of the average unimproved value of commercial land within a prescribed collection area. At this point in time, the collection area will be the division of city and certain commercial areas in Braddon and Turner. The collection area will be divided into two areas with differential rates to apply. Residential properties within the area will not be liable to the levy.

Under section 8 of the Rates Act, certain parcels of land are not considered to be rateable land and are therefore not liable to rates. The bill ensures that only rateable commercial land is liable to the levy so that certain non-residential properties, such as the sites of churches or schools located within the collection area, will not be liable.

As the levy will be billed and collected separately from rates, payment by instalments and discounts for early payment are not provided. It should be noted that under the Taxation Administration Act 1999, the Commissioner for ACT Revenue may enter into an arrangement with a taxpayer to extend the time for payment of tax, or accept payment by instalment, subject to any conditions that may be determined by the commissioner.

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