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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 6 August 2008) . . Page.. 2916 ..

The Chief Minister talked about the opposition’s lack of capacity to manage the budget. You really would have grave doubts, when you look at the approach to tax policy and spending policy, as to where the economic advice is coming from. I do not know; I do not see it in the corridors of this place. I see constant changes of position. As the Chief Minister said, Mr Pratt was a full-on advocate of getting rid of this levy, but he has obviously been crunched and silenced, just like the shadow Treasurer. Of course, you never hear a word from him these days.

Mr Speaker, I remain very committed to the process of tax reform. I am sorry to disappoint you, Mr Smyth, but I think you will find I will be here after the next election. If you look at the polling, I think the biggest problem is the vote you are dragging down in Brindabella. I think it is going to tip your mate, Mr Pratt, out. I will remain committed to the principles of tax reform. I am firmly of the belief that we are in a position to extend tax relief to the people of Canberra, and they are principles to which I strongly adhere.

There was an argument in 2006 that this territory was under a lot of financial pressure; there were concerns being raised by the credit rating agencies. But the fact of the matter is that we have moved on from there. I have always been willing to acknowledge the improvements. I have said that the territory now has the strongest balance sheet of any jurisdiction in the country. But I also believe that, when you are in those strong financial positions, you ought to be handing back to the people of Canberra some of those taxes.

The Chief Minster’s philosophical view is to spend it on various things. It seems that whilst a measure of this nature, which is around $20 million on an annual basis, is beyond capacity, ministers and members can race up to Gungahlin and make expensive announcements which seem to be able to be funded very, very rapidly, whether they be GDEs, swimming pools and leisure centres or extending police services. I am pretty cynical about this view that tax reform is beyond the capacity of the budget. Clearly, it can be funded, but, clearly, there is no commitment to provide that relief to the people of Canberra. They will have the opportunity to express their view in 10 weeks.

Question put:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

The Assembly voted—

Ayes 1

Noes 14

Mr Mulcahy

Mr Barr

Mr Gentleman

Mr Berry

Mr Hargreaves

Mrs Burke

Ms Porter

Mr Corbell

Mr Seselja

Mrs Dunne

Mr Smyth

Dr Foskey

Mr Stanhope

Ms Gallagher

Mr Stefaniak

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