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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 5 (Hansard) 16 May) . . Page.. 1351 ..

Mr Berry: Indeed, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, would you order the Chief Minister to answer the question in accordance with 118(a) and answer the question whether or not she will table the document.

MRS CARNELL: The question went substantially further than that, and that is what I am answering, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: The Chief Minister is answering the question as she sees fit, and she has not finished answering.

MRS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, what I was speaking about was exactly what Mr Whitecross asked me about, and that is the valuations of properties in the ACT this year. I was making the point that, as we all know, on the whole valuations have gone down this year. What would have happened under the previous Government's approach to rates would have been that rates would not have gone down, as we know. The multiplying factor would have gone up. So, regardless of whether property values went down, rates on the whole did not go down, Mr Speaker, because the previous Government decided in the budget process, possibly appropriately, that what it wanted was an overall increase of X per cent. The last time Ms Follett put a budget together, I believe, that was 5 per cent. So, she determined that she wanted a 5 per cent increase across the board.

The way her rating system worked was that commercial and residential rates were balanced. The multiplying factor was determined to achieve the 5 per cent increase in rates across the board. Because she was using that sort of formula, what ended up happening was that in some suburbs we got 60 per cent increases and in some suburbs we did not get an increase at all. So, you got huge skews in the rating system. We do not believe that that approach is appropriate. We believe that it is much better to ensure that the people of Canberra know what their rates are going to be, and what they will be is 3 per cent on top of their last year's rating bill. Mr Speaker, for an average rating bill of, say, $600, that will be an increase of $18. Eighteen dollars is something that I believe most Canberrans can plan for. What they cannot plan for, Mr Speaker, is increases of 60 and 70 per cent, which resulted from the approach that the previous Government took. We believe that, in a time of economic insecurity, a time when people need confidence, this is the appropriate way to go. I certainly do not, in any way, walk away from the fact that property values in the ACT have decreased. You would be a moron not to know that, absolutely definitely.

Stromlo Exploratory Building

MR KAINE: Mr Speaker, through you, I put a question to the Chief Minister and Treasurer. Chief Minister, I understand that some assistance has been provided to the Australian National University for some work at Mount Stromlo Observatory, the nature of which I am not certain about. Can you say whether or not that is true? If so, what is the nature of the assistance being provided, and what benefit do you see to the community from making this kind of assistance available to the ANU?

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