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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (1 September) . . Page.. 1608 ..

MR KAINE (continuing):

It has been put to me by a concerned person that this is, in fact, the interpretation by the Government. If that is the case I think the Government needs to have a rethink because a very large number of people who merely live in their own residential unit are going to be paying commercial rates.

Mr Speaker, this legislation has been universally rejected by business, as I have said, by property owners and by individuals. It is basically inequitable because the non-insurers do not pay at all and the underinsurers pay less than their share. How the Government can conclude that this is a fair way of increasing their revenue is absolutely beyond me. Mr Speaker, I think it is incumbent on the Government, if they are going to impose a new tax, first of all, to state publicly that they are doing so, so everybody knows that it is a tax, and, secondly, to impose it in a way whereby the burden is carried by all of those people who should carry such a burden - that there is no doubt in anybody's mind as to why they are paying the tax and what they are going to get for it. This is not such a case.

A much fairer way - and it is obvious to anybody who thinks about it for five minutes - if the Government is determined to raise $10m by an extra tax, would be to do it simply by putting a levy on people's rates bills. That way there are no shirkers. Everybody pays rates either directly as property owners or through their rent if they happen to be renting. Everybody picks up their fair share of the burden. There are no shirkers. There are no people paying more than they should because some people are paying none at all or less than they should. It is an outright tax, which is what this measure is, and the burden is expressed fairly.

The Government has to justify to our ratepayers - 100,000 or so of them - that they should have to pay, after having paid all the rates and taxes which we are called upon to do every year. If they can convince those people that, having paid all those taxes, they should make an additional payment to guarantee that there is a fire truck or an ambulance at their door when they need it - I think it is going to be pretty hard to convince them of that - they can then justify their position, in my view. To simply say, "It is unreasonable for you taxpayers out there to expect the fire truck or an ambulance simply because you pay all your taxes, because it goes into Consolidated Revenue and is therefore somehow no longer available for the payment of those emergency services" is a convoluted, unconvincing argument. Mr Speaker, I will not support this tax because, basically, it is an unfair tax. It is a stealthy tax, it is a deceptive tax, and I will not support it.

MS TUCKER (11.36): I support the sentiments of the Opposition and Mr Kaine on this insurance levy. This levy is inequitable and significantly flawed. It will force Canberrans who are responsible and insure their homes to foot the bill for providing emergency services. This type of tax has been seen to be inequitable across most States of Australia. Queensland has abandoned the tax, and South Australia is in the process, as is Western Australia. The Northern Territory does not have one, and New South Wales and Victoria have both conducted inquiries concluding the inequity and inefficiency of such a tax.

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