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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 21 November 2007) . . Page.. 3623 ..


We expend at well above the Australian average. This is the mismatch: the extent to which we as a jurisdiction have historically—since self-government and indeed, through the commonwealth, prior to that—invested in services for people at the ACT at well above the national average. Indeed, the most recent advice available is that two years ago the level of investment by the ACT government in services—health, education, community safety—was in the order of 25 per cent above the national average, in a circumstance where we collected revenues at the national average. It is a very simple equation. You cannot continue to fund health, education and community safety—the full range of state and municipal services for which we are responsible—at levels that are 20 to 25 per cent above the national average whilst receiving revenue through rates and charges at a level consistent with or equal to the national average.

The great strain and stress for Canberrans feeling stress—we do not deny that there are significant numbers of Canberrans under significant stress in terms of meeting their cost of living. We know that somewhere in the order of 10 or 11 per cent of Canberrans are living below the poverty line. There are a significant number of Canberrans in significant stress; we are mindful of that.

We are also mindful of the responsibility of a government—a responsibility of any government, a responsibility which we hold particularly dearly—that one way of dealing with the legitimate expectation of people living in that sort of stress to participate fully in society is through the provision of a world-class, Australia-best health system, which we deliver, and a world-class, Australia-best education system, which we deliver and which we will continue to deliver through the level of investment that we provide. But we will do it in a sustainable way. It is simply necessary for rates and charges to reflect our priorities and our commitment to the level of expenditure. And we do it. We level rates and charges at a level that is consistent with the national average. (Time expired.)

MR SPEAKER: Mr Mulcahy with a supplementary question.

MR MULCAHY: Thank you, Treasurer, for your answer. My supplementary question is: in reviewing levels of taxation, what consideration does your government give to the position of residents on fixed incomes?

MR STANHOPE: We give consideration to all residents. In any year in any consideration or review of levels of taxes and charges, we, of course, consider the impact on all Canberrans across the board. To all sectors of our community, those on fixed incomes, those not within the paid workforce and families living in significant stress we give significant consideration. We seek to have a taxation regime that is responsive and sensitive. We have arrangements in place that allow us to respond to particular instances of particular stress faced by individuals and individual families within the territory.

But, at the end of the day, in order to meet the legitimate expectations of Canberrans, particularly those living in disadvantage, we need to ensure that we can deliver across-the-board government services that meet the expectations of all within this community. The legitimate expectation is that everybody will be given a fair go, that


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