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“(3) In this section -
‘former employment related exemption’ means a declaration of exemption made under paragraph 22BA(2)(a) of the Principal Act before 1 July 1995, where the Commissioner was satisfied that paragraphs 22B(1)(a) and (1A)(a) of the Principal Act applied in respect of the relevant parcel of land;
‘new employment related exemption’ means a declaration of exemption made under paragraph 22BA(2)(a) of the Principal Act as amended by this Act, where the Commissioner is satisfied that paragraph 22B(1)(ba) of that Act applies.”.
The purpose of these amendments is to reinstate employment-related absences as a ground for exemption from land tax liability. Mr Speaker, I recall that when this matter first arose in this Assembly it was an issue of quite some debate. It was overwhelmingly the view of this Assembly that people who were posted overseas in the course of their paid employment should not have to pay land tax on their principal place of residence in Canberra. I think that the situation has not changed. We are in danger of perpetrating a real injustice on the many people who sought and were granted an exemption last year, and who have, in fact, been posted overseas in the belief that they were not liable for land tax. Now, under Mrs Carnell's Bill, unless my amendment is passed, they will be liable for land tax for the remainder of their posting.
Mr Speaker, I think there are very good reasons for allowing this exemption, and I was not a person who was famous for exempting people from taxes. It seems to me that where people are posted overseas it is very much a requirement of their employment. They are home owners, not investors. They retain that house as their principal place of residence. Had they stayed on in that house and been kept on their normal job, they would not have been paying land tax. The question would never have arisen. I think that people are entitled to be granted an exemption, not forever but at least for the three-year period, which reflects the temporary nature of their absence from Canberra. It also reflects the fact that this absence is in the course of duty and is not something over which some of them have a great deal of control. I do not think that many people taking postings in any way relish the concept of becoming involuntary landlords. I know that I would not. It is more or less a situation that is forced upon them by the nature of their employment.
Mr Speaker, I think it is entirely appropriate that those people not have to pay land tax; hence I am moving a series of amendments to Mrs Carnell's Bill which would reinstate that concession. As I say, there is a group of people who have already been granted the concession but who will now, unless my amendment is passed, receive the very unpleasant news that that concession has been terminated, and that will occur midway through their postings out of Canberra. I commend these amendments to the Assembly.