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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 5 Hansard (4 May) . . Page.. 1321 ..

MS CARNELL (continuing):

forecast movement in the CPI. For 1999-2000, rates revenue is budgeted at $104.3m, compared to $101.7m in 1998-99. This represents an increase of 2.5 per cent. This forecast increase in the CPI is consistent with the Commonwealth Treasury forecast for 1999-2000 as published in the mid-year review. It is also consistent with the Reserve Bank's inflation target of between 2 and 3 per cent for 1999-2000. The Bill also includes an adjustment to the fixed charge applying to properties within the city area, from $240 in 1998-99 to $260 in 1999-2000.

Mr Speaker, a gradual increase in the fixed charge reflects more closely a user-pays principle, without causing major impact on individuals' rates bills. It distributes the liability more evenly according to the benefit received by property owners by recognising the minimum fixed costs of providing essential municipal-type services to each ACT property, regardless of its location or land value. The fixed charge also reduces the proportion of rates based on the property value and therefore reduces the impact of movements in valuations from year to year. The other features of the rating system are unchanged from 1998-99, including the rates-free threshold of $19,000, the revenue targets of 85: 15 for the residential and non-residential sectors respectively.

Mr Speaker, this Bill continues the work that commenced in July 1997 to improve the rating system that applies to around 117,000 rateable properties in the ACT. The combined changes to the fixed charge and the rating factors for 1999-2000 result in the best possible outcome for the largest number of ratepayers, and at the same time meet the revenue target required to provide municipal-type services for ACT residents.

Mr Speaker, this Bill also introduces a determined fee for the lodgment of objections to decisions or assessments relating to rates and land tax. The cost of processing objections to revenue matters is quite high and there is no mechanism to deter the lodgment of frivolous objections from ratepayers or land tax payers. The objection lodgment fee will be refundable to the ratepayer or land tax payer upon a successful result, either in whole or in part, at the objection or appeal stages. The introduction of an objection lodgment fee will result in resources being effectively used to review the more genuine cases, and at the same time maintain and protect the rights of taxpayers and land tax payers to seek a review of decisions affecting them. Mr Speaker, I commend the Bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Quinlan ) adjourned.


MS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (3.45): Mr Speaker, I ask for leave to present the Revenue Legislation Amendment Bill 1999.

Leave granted.

MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, I present the Revenue Legislation Amendment Bill 1999, together with its explanatory memorandum.

Title read by Clerk.

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