Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (1 September) . . Page.. 1618 ..
Mr Humphries: Or part of yours.
MR HARGREAVES: Indeed, Minister. To say that it is being applied to emergency services is, in fact, a falsehood. Indeed, we have seen a whole heap of falsehoods coming out in this legislation. Mr Speaker, the Opposition and the crossbenchers - I hope all of the crossbenchers - will reject this piece of legislation. It is a sneaky, uncaring and not clever way of putting $9m into retiring debt. Why cannot the Government be honest about it? Do not talk about it in terms of emergency services; just tell the people out there, "We are going to tax you some more so that we can retire the debt". If you are going to screw them, at least be honest about it.
MR KAINE: Mr Speaker, I seek leave to speak again on this subject.
MR KAINE: Thank you, members. Mr Speaker, I really must say something about the way that the Chief Minister and Treasurer attempted to twist and distort not only what I said but what other members on this side of the house said on this question. I said in my earlier speech that this was taxation by stealth. It now appears, based on what the Chief Minister has said, that what she is trying to impose is a wealth tax, a property tax, but she proposes to do that by making a levy on insurance premiums.
I would submit that, as an alternative, the imposition of a wealth tax would be a fairer way. If she really means that somebody who owns a $2m house with all the clocks in it should pay more than somebody with a $100,000 house with no clocks in it, then what she is talking about is a property tax. If that is what she intends to do, would it not be more honest to propose a property tax and not try to hide it as a levy on insurance policies, because then 100 per cent of the population would pay, not only 70 per cent? In fact, under the insurance levy proposal, we are told that 30 per cent of people will pay no tax at all, and there is another fair percentage who underinsure and who therefore are paying less than they should, based on the value of their property. So, instead of trying to distort the concept of a levy on the rates bill as an alternative, why does the Government not be honest and say, "What we intend to do is impose a tax based on how much you possess."? That is a property tax.
It is a tax, incidentally, that is imposed by many of the states of the United States, and it is quite an easy tax to impose. You merely ask people once to fill out a form on which they have to identify all their property and put values on it, and then they are levied a property tax. That is what the Chief Minister and Treasurer and the Minister Assisting the Treasurer seem determined to do. Well, why do they not come out and say that is what they intend to do?
I will tell you why, Mr Speaker. It is because they do not dare introduce a new tax. They would rather take a discredited tax, a tax that has been discredited in other parts of the country, dress it up a bit and impose it here, with all its inequities, knowing full well that not everybody is going to pay. They would rather do that than be up front and say,