Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 November 2007) . . Page.. 3545 ..
there was no need to do this—that you can trust all taxpayers all the time. He said in his speech today, “I don’t know why you are bothering to do this—that you can’t trust the taxpayers of the ACT to not seek to manipulate their property arrangements so as to avoid this particular tax.”
It having been foreshadowed to be removed by 2009, Mr Mulcahy thinks that nobody is going to play funny games or silly buggers with this; they will all just continue to pay the tax that is due until the day that it is abolished; they will not put in place arrangements that would perhaps lessen their tax obligation. Pull the other one! Have you ever heard anything so ridiculous as the shadow Treasuer, the person who would be the Treasurer, saying that there was no need to put in place measures that would ensure that the foresahdowing of the removal of a tax in a couple of years time would not have excited the interests of the accountants, company managers and company secretaries—that they would not put in place measures, legitimate and lawful, but for this particular piece of legislation to avoid the paying of a tax. What a joke! What a joke!
The serious aspect of the joke, of course, is to the extent that it sends a signal about how a Liberal government in the ACT would operate or behave. It shows a completely cavalier attitude to the revenue base of the territory. You would not put in place anti-avoidance measures if it impacted on your constituents, the business sector—because they can be trusted. They can be trusted to vote Liberal, Mr Mulcahy thinks, particularly if you send all these sorts of signals that in government you would not suggest through a piece of legislation that they might put in place schemes or arrangements that would allow them to avoid a lawful obligation to pay tax.
The message that comes from Mr Mulcahy today is that this is how a Liberal government would behave and operate were it ever to win government again in the Australian Capital Territory: “In the first place, to the extent that we need to tug the old forelock whenever we are around Peter Costello, we would have just signed up to the immediate abolition of all of the IGA range of taxes. We would have shown the appropriate deference. We would have got rid of them all. We would have forgone tens of millions of dollars of revenue, and then to the extent that we foreshadowed down the track the abolition of a tax we would not have done the tawdry thing of putting in place anti-avoidance measures because you can trust people not to play fast and loose with any sort of scheme or arrangement that would have allowed them to avoid paying a necessary tax.”
Having said all that, I thank the Liberal Party and the Greens for their support of this sensible piece of legislation—and it is revealing. I must say I am always pleased and glad when in a presentation such as this morning’s Mr Mulcahy again sets out another piece of essential Liberal Party philosophy or ideology in relation to issues around revenue, the revenue base, the need to secure it and the attitude that a Liberal government in the ACT would take to securing our revenue stream and base; the steps—the enormous, extraordinary steps—that he would take to allow a constituency that he is seeking to curry favour with to avoid their lawful obligations. The revealing part of the debate today is the ideological position that will be adopted by the Liberal Party if they ever, ever achieve government again.