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Detail Stage

Debate resumed.

MR BERRY: There we have it in a nutshell, Mr Speaker. This is an unfair rating system. It is not a system that is used broadly, and neither should it be, because it does not fairly apply the rates that ought to be paid in relation to particular properties. It does not offer relief for people when their values have plummeted. I think there would be a view out there in the community, certainly in some suburbs, that the value of their properties has fallen markedly. Mr Speaker, this is something that ought to be supported by this Assembly. We cannot help it if the Government decides on a silly rates policy, but we ought to be able to reverse it where it adversely affects our constituencies.

MRS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (5.02): Very briefly, I will say it again; the end point of this rates policy is budget neutral. Under Ms Follett's approach she had something called a rating factor. Even if people's property values fell, the rating factor, the multiplying factor, could, in many cases, make rates go up anyway. The end point, the amount of money that had to be raised, was exactly the same, whether under this system or under the old system. If property values went down, not necessarily were rates going to go down. It is important that people understand that, but it is probably a bit hard.

MS FOLLETT (Leader of the Opposition) (5.02): I want to address one issue that Mrs Carnell raised, and that is the relativity between commercial and residential rates. Mrs Carnell made the point that commercial rates, as a proportion of the entire rates take, had fallen, and that is the case, Mr Speaker. That is the case because the unimproved capital value of commercial land fell consistently for many years. The reason why that commercial land fell in value was the recession. Businesses were not attractive as investment propositions and there was very little development going on. That was reflected in the unimproved capital value of the land.

If it is fair for the commercial ratepayers to have the advantage of a lower rates bill because of a lower valuation, why is it not fair for the residential people? Mrs Carnell is saying that if the residential valuations have fallen she does not care. She still wants them to pay last year's rates bill plus 4 per cent. Mr Speaker, I repeat that that is not a position that I believe is in any way fair. I think the unfairness is even more exacerbated now that people have no right of appeal. You must remember that when there were three-yearly valuations people knew that that valuation would last them for three years. They appealed knowing that it would last three years. Now, thanks to the votes of the Greens and the Liberals, people do not have that right of appeal; nor did they have any idea last year that that would be the situation. You are going from one grave unfairness to another.

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