Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (1 September) . . Page.. 1606 ..
MR QUINLAN: So much for your consultation with the industry to find out what the hell you were doing in the first place. On top of that, the Property Owners Association of the ACT agrees that a significant number of people will not renew their policies. Simply, they will not take out insurance. The result of that, in the long run, could be quite tragic. Governments should not be responsible for a measure that forces people to forgo insurance and to leave their own assets at risk, particularly in light of the growing crime rate in Australia. They have to leave their assets at risk because they are at the margin. I understand that this Bill may also impact upon car insurance premiums, on top of the increase in registration fees. People are beginning to express their deep resentment. Mr Speaker, the effect of this Bill on domestic policyholders is serious. I think the Government, particularly the crossbenchers, should take note of that and it should take note of the groundswell against this particular levy.
Let there be no mistake, Mr Speaker: Business will also suffer. I have a passing familiarity with business in Canberra. I know a number of businesses are worried and concerned about this Bill. To give members an idea of the impact on business of this particular measure, the Tuggeranong Hyperdome shopping centre assesses that its premium is likely to increase by $60,000 per year. That is its calculation.
Mr Humphries: That is not its calculations. It is the Insurance Council's calculations. It is a scare calculation.
MR QUINLAN: Let me say it again: $60,000 per year. Obviously the mall owners at the Hyperdome are going to try to cover that additional $60,000. The chain stores within those malls have the clout, so guess who is going to cop it in the neck? It is going to be the small business people in the malls who pay premium rent in those malls. The trickle-down effect is highly likely to be even greater than the proportion estimated by the Insurance Council.
Mr Speaker, I would ask members to seriously consider not supporting this Bill because, in the end, the consumer will be paying for it. It is a form of taxation that is inequitable. It is a form of taxation that will have a negative effect upon business. There are not too many pieces of government legislation that evoke a reaction like this one did, so I suggest to the crossbenches that they take note of the public reaction that has flowed from this particular Bill and they vote it down.
MR KAINE (11.27): I think my earlier remarks in connection with the Estimates Committee report foreshadowed that I was going to oppose this Bill. This Bill, by whatever name, is taxation by stealth; it is taxation by deception; and it is taxation by a government that really has not thought through the consequences of the legislation. It is sloppy legislation because the Government has applied absolutely no intellectual rigour to the question at all. Not only is the Bill taxation by stealth, Mr Speaker, but also when it was presented to this place nearly three months ago, it was presented in a stealthy way. The Minister's tabling speech described this as a levy on insurance companies. No citizen who read the Minister's speech in June when this Bill was tabled would have assumed that this was going to translate into additional costs to them. It was described as a levy on insurance companies.