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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 7 Hansard (18 June) . . Page.. 1783 ..


MRS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (10.42): Mr Speaker, I ask for leave to present the Rates and Land Tax (Amendment) Bill 1996.

Leave granted.

MRS CARNELL: I present the Rates and Land Tax (Amendment) Bill 1996 and its explanatory memorandum.

Title read by Clerk.


That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, this Bill amends the Rates and Land Tax Act 1926. The Act provides for the imposition of municipal rates and land tax in the Australian Capital Territory. Mr Speaker, the changes proposed in this Bill give effect to the Government's undertaking to keep rates increases to a minimum while we examine options for levying and collecting rates and land taxes in the future. As you would be aware, the Government initiated a comprehensive review of the rating system. The review, which examined alternative methods of applying rates, including those used interstate and overseas, also provided for broad community consultation on the rating system. The Government is not prepared to accept a number of its recommendations, because they would lead to big rates increases for ratepayers whose property values are at the lower end of the scale.

Mr Speaker, the Bill provides for unimproved land values to remain at 1994 levels for the 1996-97 and 1997-98 financial years. During these two financial years both rates and land tax will be assessed using the 1994 property values. This will allow the Government time to undertake a full analysis of the review's recommendations and to consider possible changes to the rating system. Additionally, to avoid further unnecessary cost and inconvenience for property owners, the Bill also proposes that the obligation of the Commissioner for ACT Revenue to determine annual land revaluations in 1996 and 1997 be removed. This will avoid the need for the commissioner to obtain land valuations as of 1 January 1997, because 1994 property values will continue to be applied for the 1997-98 rating year. Obviously, this will have substantial savings for the ACT budget at a time when savings are very necessary.

Mr Speaker, the level of rates set in the Bill for 1996-97 will keep individual rates bills to the forecast 3 per cent movement in the consumer price index. This is a modest increase in rates charges and means that ratepayers in Canberra can plan their budget with certainty, knowing that their rates bill can be calculated simply by adding 3 per cent to last year's bill. A similar calculation can also be used to assess rates liability in 1997-98. Landowners who are required to pay land tax on their properties will benefit from existing rates used for assessment purposes being maintained during the 1996-97 and 1997-98 financial years. Mr Speaker, I ask that the Bill be agreed to in principle.

Debate (on motion by Mr Whitecross) adjourned.

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