Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 01 Hansard (Thursday, 15 February 2018) . . Page.. 233 ..
We are now receiving that GST revenue, but we are also incurring, and will continue to incur, those expenses that come from the increased population. That is how the distribution of the GST system works. We welcome the fact that there is some catch-up now from the GST pool, recognising the ACT’s increased share of the national population. That is an important outcome for this community because it will allow the government to make further investments in the infrastructure and service delivery that this growing community needs. That is our focus, as I outlined at the beginning of this week, in terms of the government’s legislative, policy and infrastructure agenda for 2018.
We will be investing in expanding our health system, our education system, our training system, supporting additional transport infrastructure and rolling out a range of new programs and initiatives to assist the most vulnerable in our community. As I mentioned, later today—later this morning, I hope—I will have the opportunity to introduce some further measures into this place to provide more support for those on the pension or those who have concession cards to receive a further $50 energy concession, to boost that to $654 each year.
There will be more funding to undertake more surgeries in our health system. There will be funding to provide support for high school students, particularly low income high school students who do not have access to digital technology because their parents cannot afford to buy that for them, and support in a number of other important areas of ACT government responsibility. We do that because we value equality and we value the role of government to be able to support the most vulnerable in our community. In order to do that we do need to raise revenue. We seek to raise revenue in the fairest and most efficient manner. The measures that we have introduced over the last six years now have been focused on simplicity, efficiency and fairness.
That is what every opinion poll in this nation has indicated should be the priority for government—at our level of government and, indeed, at the national level. We do this in the context of the debates that we are having in this nation now about how to fund the national disability insurance scheme, whether companies that are doing their best to avoid paying any tax should be given a $50 billion tax cut, or whether the focus of taxation reform in this nation should have fairness at the heart of that agenda. Madam Speaker, that is our approach and that is what we will continue to do.
MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (10.29): The Greens also support referring this matter to the public accounts committee. That seems an entirely reasonable thing to do. Of course, the Greens support taxation systems which are socially just, socially equitable and economically fair. This is the balance that we have to get in devising what is our best taxation system.
Given where the ACT sits in the constitution, rates are clearly an important part of our revenue system. So it is entirely appropriate that we debate how our rates system works. I almost feel it is a pity that I am not back on the public accounts committee, because this is actually important work to do.
As Mr Barr alluded to, we debated this subject a bit in the Assembly last year. I would like to draw members’ attention to the debate on 13 September. This was a debate on