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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 13 Hansard (Thursday, 29 November 2018) . . Page.. 5083 ..

This Chief Minister talks a big game when it comes to diversifying our economy. All this policy does is drive away small business. This does nothing to diversify our economy, nothing to support innovation, nothing to support a diversity of products and services being produced in the territory. It does the absolute opposite. That is why we are seeing so many small businesses go across the border to New South Wales.

This is evidenced by the fact that just a few years ago, if you looked at commercial properties available for rent or for purchase in Queanbeyan, there were dozens, if not hundreds. Go to Allhomes today, click on the commercial tab, and look at how many properties are available in Queanbeyan. It is a fraction of what used to be available. What is more, they are bringing more commercial properties online because they cannot keep up with demand. Not only is the existing supply not meeting demand but they are actually putting in more supply because of the excess demand that exists for businesses to set up in New South Wales.

I firmly believe that the ACT has a magnificent opportunity to be a place where businesses want to be located. We have the opportunity to put settings and policies in place that would make the ACT the most attractive place in the country to do business. Instead, we are doing the absolute opposite here under this Labor-Greens government.

This government is not a big fan of scrutiny. This government is too stubborn to acknowledge that its policies cause harm. But they certainly are. Just today in the residential sector, we saw the latest rental index come out. There are just about no affordable properties in the ACT, just about none. An average person cannot go and rent a property in Canberra for less than 25 per cent of their income. That is rental pressure. That is rental stress. It does not matter whether you are talking about the commercial sector or the residential sector; this government is gouging Canberrans. That is absolutely wrong.

There are limits to what we can do on this side of the chamber. When we have 11 of 25 votes, we cannot vote down Mr Barr’s tax policies; we cannot try to stop them. All we can do is try to bring to the public’s attention the impacts that these policies are having. But also we can do exactly what we are doing today: try to refer this issue to the public accounts committee so that they can at least shed some light on just how bad the situation is at the moment.

It is bad. That is why, over the coming five or so months, it would be worthwhile for the public accounts committee to look into this issue of commercial rates in the territory, in particular the process for determining the ratings factors. How is it that we have a five per cent multiplier when it comes to determining the rates? What is the impact of lease variations? How these valuations are conducted seems to be a dark art that nobody knows how to do. How are you meant to appeal a valuation when you do not even know how they conducted the valuation? You just get a number. A magical number comes out of the generator. This land and valuation generator spits out a number and you are meant to just accept it. We want to know how the leasing costs and property values affect business viability, and the total amount that property owners and lessees end up paying.

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