Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 13 Hansard (14 December) . . Page.. 4159..
MR MULCAHY (continuing):
with this government's finger in every pie philosophy. It is this philosophy that will be kept alive by the passing of this legislation that sits before us here today.
Put simply, the introduction of this new tax by Mr Stanhope's Labor government is poorly justified. It is a poorly justified way to recover lost revenue from his poor management of the ACT budget since he was elected in 2001. This tax essentially hits people who already pay tax on utilities through the GST that this government collects and has handed over to them. It further damages the ACT's attractiveness for new infrastructure and business investment relative to other states and territories.
I have people living as close as North Lyneham who are complaining about technological deficiencies. I have electors in my district in Gungahlin who are complaining. What does this government do? It goes out and finds ways to discourage Telstra from doing further business in the territory. It damages the ACT's attractiveness. The development of this tax has been fraught with confusion from day one, as is clearly demonstrated by the mechanism of the tax being changed so drastically since the June budget. There continues to be ongoing uncertainty over its methodology.
It is quite extraordinary, with the absolute fumbling and incompetence behind this tax, that they announced it with great gusto in the budget. We sat down at the press club and heard Mr Stanhope justify this. Then, with hardly a mention, he suddenly trashed that and came up with a new scheme.
When I sat down with officials in my office only in the last couple of weeks, they admitted that they have no idea how Telstra is meant to work out the linear length of the cable. They admitted that they do not have a methodology and that they are going to have to rely on them to guess their way through it. Maybe we could get up a federal income tax system or just guess what we earn and come up with a fair figure. What an extraordinarily incompetent way to manage the taxation affairs of this territory. It is a reflection of ill-considered legislation. It is a reflection on this territory because we have become the subject of national criticism.
It is a piece of legislation that should be withdrawn. It should be acknowledged that it is a blunder and that, given the minuscule amount of revenue it raises in the scheme of things, the pain is greater than the benefit to this territory. It is for these reasons that the opposition strongly opposes this bill that will spell nothing but pain for the people of the ACT, all for a bit more revenue to make up for this government's past mistakes.
DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (12.02): The Greens will not be supporting this bill because it fails to take a triple bottom line approach. While I acknowledge the inadequacy of the ACT government's revenue base—we certainly could support new revenue measures—I do not believe the government has taken the time to work out the best way to do this in this instance. If the Treasurer had produced a new revenue measure that demonstrated a progressive impact on ACT residents and on our environment I could more easily support the bill, but what we have before us is a revenue measure that was hastily announced in the 2006-07 budget with little analysis conducted prior to that and tabled in final form only two days ago.