Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 2 Hansard (21 May) . . Page.. 448 ..
Statement by Speaker
MR SPEAKER: Members, yesterday, during questions without notice, a member inadvertently mentioned the name of a young person whose death is currently the subject of a coronial inquiry. It is understood that the coroner has placed a suppression order on the publication of the name. I wish to inform the Assembly that, given the circumstances of the case, I have directed that the name of the person or the family of the person not be recorded in the proof Hansard or the weekly Hansard. This type of direction is rarely given. However, I believe that in the circumstances members will agree with the course I have taken and propose to take.
MS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (10.32): I present the Taxation (Administration) (Amendment) Bill 1998, together with its explanatory memorandum.
Title read by Clerk.
MS CARNELL: I move:
That this Bill be agreed to in principle.
Mr Speaker, this Bill amends the Taxation (Administration) Act 1987, which I shall refer to hereafter simply as "the Act", to allow the interest rate on unpaid taxes to be set by determination. It is Government policy that the interest rates on unpaid taxes be reviewed every six months in line with the practices of both the Australian Taxation Office and the New South Wales Office of State Revenue under its Taxation Administration Act 1996. This amendment will facilitate the Government's response to changing marketplace interest rates. The rate is currently set in the Act at 20 per cent per annum. This rate, Mr Speaker, is substantially higher than both commercial and government interest rates. At my instruction, the rate was reviewed at the beginning of this year and administrative arrangements were put in place to lower the rate to 16.8 per cent, in line with New South Wales and the Australian Taxation Office's penalty interest rate on unpaid tax. This Bill will provide the necessary legal authority to enable the varying of the rate without resort to the commissioner's general powers of interest remission which do not comfortably apply in such circumstances.
Mr Speaker, the Bill makes no other alterations to the current system of imposing interest and imposes no additional regulatory or financial burden on any ACT taxpayers. The adoption of the 16.8 per cent interest rate as compared with the previous statutory 20 per cent has resulted in the collection of less revenue from interest imposed on overdue accounts. However, this change represents a fairer and more equitable approach to tax administration, with interest rates more in line with changes in the marketplace, particularly in times of falling interest rates.
Debate (on motion by Mr Quinlan) adjourned.