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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 22 August 2018) . . Page.. 3478 ..

Let us be clear, Madam Speaker, that the average ACT government own-source tax revenue as a share of gross state product for the five-year period before tax reform, from 2007-08 to 2011-12, was 4.1 per cent. For the five-year period since tax reform commenced, from 2012-13 to 2016-17, the average ACT government own-source revenue as a share of GDP was 4.1 per cent—exactly the same, Madam Speaker.

Where we have seen growth in own-source revenue, it is primarily due to growth in economic activity as well as the implementation of government initiatives. Changes to taxes, charges and levies other than general rates, stamp duty and insurance duty are not part of the tax reform process, and the government remains committed to revenue neutrality in relation to tax reform.

Tax reform involves abolishing inefficient taxes—conveyance and insurance duties—and replacing the lost revenue through the general rates system. These changes to the tax mix do ensure a more stable and efficient revenue base for the territory, and they fund the provision of high-quality government services into the future.

Where we have seen growth in own-source revenue, it has been particularly strong in payroll tax, because we have a very strong labour market. We have the lowest unemployment rate in the nation, and we have nearly 230,000 Canberrans in work.

We have very strong economic growth, the fastest of all Australian states and territories, and very strong population growth, well above the Australian average, population growth that has resulted in this city being granted a third seat in the House of Representatives under the Australian Electoral Commission’s population formula. That is a pretty clear indicator of above Australian average population growth. In order to move into that situation we had to have been growing faster than the rest of the nation, and we have been. That growth has been economic growth, employment growth and population growth.

That has, of course, fed through into a stronger economy, feeding through into stronger government revenues. That is an important public policy outcome. We do want to see a growing economy, and we do want the revenue streams that will allow us to invest in the services and infrastructure this growing community needs.

What is at the heart of the amendment from the Leader of the Opposition, and what is a very clear philosophical difference between Mr Coe and his very conservative Canberra Liberals party, as compared with this side of the chamber, is that there are philosophical differences about the role of government in our community and in our society, the essential role that government should play in delivering health, education and community and municipal services that is valued and respected by this side of the chamber but is dismissed by those opposite, whose starting point would be that the private sector should deliver all of those services, that taxation is theft and that there should be no significant level of government involvement in the community and in service delivery. That is why they are in politics, Madam Speaker: to make government smaller, to do less and to leave more and more people vulnerable to the market.

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