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MRS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (5.11): We will be opposing these amendments. We will be opposing the amendments because the whole basis of the land tax part of this Bill is that from now on land tax will be levied on income producing properties. If people who are posted overseas are not renting their properties, they will pay no land tax. If they are, they will pay land tax. I am confident that when they go away they do the sorts of things that everybody does. They negatively gear the property and the land tax is tax deductible, as are all the other expenses associated with that property while it is not a principal place of residence. It is not as if this is a large extra impost; it is part of an income producing entity.
I am interested that Ms Follett seems to think that the ACT Government and the ACT people should somehow subsidise Commonwealth employees. These people, almost solely, are Commonwealth employees, so any assistance that we give them to carry out their jobs overseas is a direct subsidy from the ACT people to the Commonwealth Government via their employees. If the Commonwealth Government believes that land tax is an impost which is somehow unfair or unjust for people who are going overseas, there is absolutely nothing to stop the Commonwealth Government from increasing living away from home allowances or the offshore allowances for people who are posted overseas. There are a number of allowances, depending on the posting that people get. There is nothing to stop the Federal Government from adding this if they believe that that is appropriate. I think it is totally inappropriate for the people of Canberra to be subsidising the Commonwealth Government, via Commonwealth employees, for some reason that totally escapes me.
MR CONNOLLY (5.13): Mr Speaker, it is extraordinary that Mrs Carnell, who made an artform of whingeing about rates and taxes and who graced our television screens in Liberal Party ads, beaming at the camera and saying, “Not one cent of extra taxes under the Liberals”, is now taking away a tax concession that was very consciously crafted by a Labor government when it brought in the basic principle of this form of taxation over vehement opposition from the Liberal Party. They were totally against this form of taxation when it was a Labor initiative; but as soon as they get to the government benches they consciously remove a concession, consciously put in by the Labor Government, which targeted and benefited, and was intended so to do, a very important part of this city's community.
This city, uniquely in Australia, has a strong concentration of Commonwealth public servants and defence personnel who, through no particular choice of their own, may be posted all over the world. For some years in my public service career I had the privilege of working in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and I know that, despite all the jokes about the diplomatic cocktail circuit and the easy life of BMWs and Mercedes - the popular understanding of diplomatic life - it is not that at all. Mr Kaine would know that. His daughter is a career diplomatic service officer. Those people make their homes in Canberra. They have all the difficulties and disadvantages of moving their children and the constant disruption of a three-year cycle.