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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 9 April 2008) . . Page.. 1245 ..

MR MULCAHY: Thanks, Mr Assistant Speaker. We saw, when they introduced a second budget this financial year in response to extra money, revenue that they had failed to forecast, the government come up with new spending initiatives. I am not commenting on the value of those individual initiatives but it speaks volumes about the government’s attitude that they react to extra revenue by sitting around saying, “How can we spend this?” Where is the discussion on how money can be returned to taxpayers? It ultimately is their money, after all.

The Chief Minister has made much of the recent Commonwealth Grants Commission relevant fiscal capacities of the states. He points to it and says, “We do not tax that highly compared to other states.” There are two points to be made here. One, I would not point to the taxation regimes of other Labor jurisdictions and be proud to be sitting close to the top of the pile. The figures that Mr Stanhope quotes provide a profile of the territory compared to other Labor jurisdictions.

It does not say that the ACT is a low-taxing jurisdiction. It says, overall, that we tax at a slightly lower rate than South Australia and Western Australia and at a higher rate than every other jurisdiction. This is not a justification for every tax that Mr Stanhope has increased or introduced.

Secondly, the Commonwealth Grants Commission considers all taxation. The figure that Mr Stanhope has proudly pointed to includes taxes beyond those paid by Canberra households. For Mr Stanhope to tell Canberra households that the amount of tax that they paid actually dropped in 2006-07 is patently ridiculous. I would like him to tell the people of Canberra how the introduction of the utilities tax and the fire and emergency services levy, as well as the massive increases to the level of rates and the water abstraction charge, mean that they actually pay less in tax.

I am not trying to dramatically alter the basis of ACT revenue with this bill. I recognise and support the efficient funding of key services like health, education, municipal services and police. I believe that these services can be handled better and that this does not necessarily require vast amounts of extra funding. This is a tax that the ACT can afford to repeal. It should never have been introduced. No other state or territory has this tax to anywhere near the same degree.

Question put:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

The Assembly voted—

Ayes 8

Noes 9

Mrs Burke

Mr Seselja

Mr Barr

Mr Hargreaves

Mrs Dunne

Mr Smyth

Mr Berry

Ms MacDonald

Dr Foskey

Mr Stefaniak

Mr Corbell

Ms Porter

Mr Mulcahy

Ms Gallagher

Mr Stanhope

Mr Pratt

Mr Gentleman

Question so resolved in the negative.

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