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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 13 Hansard (Thursday, 29 November 2018) . . Page.. 5084 ..


Mr Parton: It is reverse lotto.

MR COE: It is reverse lotto. That is exactly right; it is reverse lotto. Everyone loses. Everyone loses and you do not get a prize. It is pretty outrageous that in the ACT, a place where we should be trying to diversify our economy, Mr Barr is trying to do the absolute opposite by driving out small businesses. I hope this referral is supported by those opposite. If they do support it, I hope that the Labor members of the committee participate in good faith and listen objectively to the evidence that is brought before them.

I also want to say that I hope that they create—and I really do challenge the public accounts committee to do this—a mechanism where people can very easily give advice or give submissions. For something like this, the reality is that very few people would have submitted to an inquiry before. If, for instance, people were encouraged to send in their rates notices and encouraged to send in their valuation notices, that would provide very good evidence that the committee would be able to use. I encourage you to be creative in how you seek input on this, because the reality is that many property owners in Canberra would fear retribution for going public about some of these concerns. The public accounts committee should ensure that discretion can be maintained where it is requested.

MR BARR (Kurrajong—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Social Inclusion and Equality, Minister for Tourism and Special Events and Minister for Trade, Industry and Investment) (12.19): I say at the outset that the government has no problem with an Assembly committee examining the ACT’s commercial rates regime. I make the observation that, given the workload already before the committee, there is absolutely no chance they will complete the work in the time frame. So we can absolutely, confidently predict that either there will be a rushed inquiry or they will be coming back here next year to seek to extend the reporting date.

Mr Coe: You can absolutely guarantee it?

MR BARR: Yes, that there will either be a rushed inquiry or they will seek to amend the reporting date. Regardless, if the Assembly is minded to set a date in April, so be it. I think it is worth observing that Mr Coe’s recent interest in this issue is based on two incorrect premises, and I am sure the committee inquiry will identify those. The first misapprehension Mr Coe is under is that a small number of recent changes in underlying property values, and therefore rates paid by commercial property owners in two precincts in particular, Braddon and Phillip, are a sign that the entire system is not working.

In fact, it shows that the system is working exactly as it should. Commercial rates are primarily based on the underlying value of a property. If the value of that property goes up, so too will the owner’s rates bill. That is as it should be in a progressive tax system. As our city continues to grow and develop, land in some areas and in some precincts becomes more valuable. That is clearly what has happened in Braddon as the area has transitioned from a strip of car yards and mechanic shops to one of the city’s most lively commercial, residential and entertainment precincts.


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