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MS FOLLETT: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I will be brief, Mr Speaker. I refer to the answers given by Mrs Carnell and Mr Humphries to questions concerning the construction of a government-owned office block at Gungahlin. I can confirm, Mr Speaker, that the advertisement calling for expressions of interest that appeared during the caretaker period shortly before the election this year was inserted without my knowledge or consent, and also without the knowledge or consent of the former Minister, Mr Lamont. Mr Speaker, it is my view that the appearance of that advertisement, of which I first became aware about a week ago, was in direct contravention of my written instructions on this matter.
Taxes on Building Materials
MR KAINE: My question is addressed to Mr Stefaniak, the Minister for Housing and Family Services. Mr Stefaniak, I am sure that you are well aware that the residential building industry in the ACT has come up against a brick wall; that finally the Keating-induced recession has hit Canberra and construction is coming to a virtual stop. You will also be aware that in the recent Federal budget the Keating-Willis combination delivered the housing construction industry in Canberra a second whammy - a double whammy - by imposing very significant taxes on building materials. Mr Stefaniak, can you tell us what the impact of these taxes is going to be on the ACT? How much can we expect the cost of new housing, extensions to housing and renovations to increase as a result of those new taxes?
MR STEFANIAK: I thank Mr Kaine for the question. I think bricks are one of the very few items that will continue to have sales tax exemptions. The answer depends very much on the type of work being undertaken, Mr Kaine. It might give the house a better feel if I first outline the actual impact on specific building materials. In fairness to the Federal Government, let me say first that there will be continued sales tax exemptions for structural materials such as doors, windows, roof trusses, wall sheeting, bricks, cement, roof tiling, stone, sand, gravel and concrete. The Federal Government, I suppose, is being a little bit gentle on those who prefer to eke out their existence in spartan concrete bunkers. It is another matter if you want to live in a normal house, however, because sales tax will increase to 12 per cent for ovens, hotplates, heaters, range hood fans, hot-water services, shower screens, baths, towel rails, toilets, basins, wash troughs, toilet paper holders, mirrors, prefabricated shelving, sinks, cork, vinyl tiles, rubber, carpet and freestanding wardrobes.
Mr Humphries: Is that all?
MR STEFANIAK: That is quite enough, I think, Mr Humphries. The 12 per cent rate will also apply - you are right; it is not all - to items which were previously exempt from sales tax altogether. This tax impacts on handles, hinges, lock sets, batten screws, silicone, weather strips, ceramic tiles, internal tapware, external hose cocks, waterproofing adhesives, bathroom taps, fixing materials for your internal lining, doorstops, kitchen cabinets, prefabricated wardrobes, ceramics, slate, partitioning, quarry, wall and floor tiles, timber parquetry, timber floor coverings, paint, putty, joinery, nozzles and wallpaper. This tax will also hammer your nails and screw your bolts, nuts