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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 21 November 2007) . . Page.. 3622 ..

… Liberal Treasury spokesman Richard Mulcahy has been moralising about an ACT utilities tax that adds about $100 a year to a household’s bills …

Treasurer, on top of the utilities tax, your government has introduced the fire and emergency services levy, has increased general rates, and has increased the water abstraction charge and other charges substantially. Treasurer, why are you so dismissive of the impact of your taxes on people living in the ACT and, in light of your dismissive comments, can you guarantee that no Canberra household has been adversely impacted by the charges your government has introduced?

MR STANHOPE: I thank the shadow Treasurer for the question. I enjoy the opportunity to comment on the overall impact of rates and charges, particularly the impact of the interest rate rises over the last three years which the Liberal Party promised would not occur but which have occurred. It is a fine irony, isn’t it, that in any discussion around rates and charges and the impact on householders, we have had six interest rate rises since Gary Humphries, along with Peter Costello and John Howard, promised that they would not occur under a Liberal government.

The impact of that on an average mortgage—the average mortgage for people in the ACT—is $230 a month. That is on an average mortgage—an increase in interest rates of $230 a month, in excess of $2,000 a year. There is a fine irony in Richard Mulcahy or any member of the Liberal Party standing anywhere—in this place, in Canberra or anywhere in Australia—and castigating a government that raises rates and charges at a level that is consistent with the national average. I have made this point repeatedly in this place: the ACT is not a high-taxing jurisdiction; we tax and charge essentially at the mean. We are less than, I believe, three jurisdictions and more than four. We come in fourth in relation to—

Mrs Dunne: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Mr Mulcahy’s question was about a range of ACT-imposed taxes. We are most of two minutes into the answer and there has been no mention of ACT taxes—just mortgage rates.

MR SPEAKER: Come to the subject matter of the question, Treasurer.

MR STANHOPE: I was, Mr Speaker. I was speaking about the level of rates and taxes and charges imposed by the ACT and both a state and municipal—

Mr Smyth: That is not what you were asked.

MR STANHOPE: That is precisely what I was asked. I was asked about my appreciation of the response to the impact of increases in rates and charges on ACT ratepayers. I am explaining, in the context of that question, that the ACT government does not—when one takes into account both state-type and municipal-type rates and charges—tax or charge at a level above the Australian mean. All of the advice available to me from Treasury—advice developed in relation to information provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and others—is that the ACT is not a high-taxing regime. We tax and charge essentially at the median.

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