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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 5 Hansard (6 May) . . Page.. 1504 ..

Review of Government Fees and Charges

MS TUCKER: That was interesting. I noticed the Chief Minister's final comment was a personal attack on Mr Stanhope. My question is also to the Chief Minister. As the Assembly knows, government revenue-raising strategies can impact unfairly on different sectors of the community if they are not carefully thought through. For the last few years the community sector has been calling on the Government to review government fees and charges to test for equity. On 4 May the Chief Minister issued a press release stating:

Existing fees and charges collected by the ACT Revenue Office have been reviewed for the first time since a partial review was conducted in 1996-97 ...

Governments need to review their charges regularly, as does any other service provider, to ensure that appropriate fees are collected for services.

My question to the Chief Minister is: Did the Government consult the community sector to ensure that equity issues were addressed in their review of government fees and charges?

MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, I am not sure of the process followed in the Revenue Office when they did the review of government fees and charges, but I know the basis upon which that was done. It was done to ensure that the ACT had a revenue base high enough or reasonable enough to pay for health, education, police, community services, mowing the grass and all of the other things that make this Territory a great place in which to live. After the frustration of hearing Mr Stanhope earlier today, we have Ms Tucker completely forgetting that you cannot have any services unless you have a revenue base. You actually have to ensure, as I said right at the beginning of my budget speech or during my budget speech, that one of the roles of government is to ensure that the revenue base is broad enough and adequate enough to be able to pay for the services that the Territory needs.

I also said in that speech that nobody likes increasing taxes or charges. No government loves to say, "Oh, we will put that one up". Of course we do not. We do everything in our power to avoid that. But it is our role. That is the difference between being in government and being in Ms Tucker's position of being able to be all things to all people but never actually have a proper, defendable policy on anything, of being able to say, "We do not like any of these fees and charges, but we need more money for the environment and we need more money for community services". We need more money for all of these things, but she never comes up with an approach on how to get it. We saw that also from Mr Stanhope this afternoon saying, "We do not like redundancies and we do not like increases in fees and charges, but we do want to make sure that you get the budget into the black". I am absolutely aghast at how he ever does that.

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