Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (1 July) . . Page.. 2055 ..
MR QUINLAN: That is a furphy that came up last year. It probably came up in previous years also. We agreed to an A plus BX formula. We did not agree that you could keep changing the "A", the balance, in that formula, whenever it suited you. We are not talking about throwing out a formula. We are talking about the way you are misusing the formula by adding something like 17 per cent to the fixed component of the formula while only adding a fraction to the variable component. You are flattening out rates.
As an Estimates Committee, we said, "Tell us what your target is". The answer to that was: "We do not know. It is part of a process of making these rates less progressive. On the other hand, we will just continue to look at it year by year". There were contradictory statements within the space of about five or six lines. In one paragraph you say it is a gradual move towards a more equitable user-pays system. In the next paragraph you say, "We will continue annual reviews". That, to me, says that you have no policy. That says that you are meandering from year to year. I contend that "a more equitable user-pays system" is probably an oxymoron. We could just about put your rates policy on the back of a business card. It says, "What suits us at the moment". That is it. We asked what the philosophy behind it was. The answer was: "Cannot say".
Ms Carnell: The philosophy is to flatten out the increases.
MR QUINLAN: To where? To what number?
Ms Carnell: As little as possible within a fair and equitable approach.
MR QUINLAN: Do we have you on record saying that you want flat rating across the ACT?
Ms Carnell: No. We said we did not want that.
MR QUINLAN: We do not want flat rating. We do not want what we used to have. We do not want exactly what we have now, but we do not know what we do want. Is that a reasonable summary of what you have just said?
Ms Carnell: No, it is not.
MR QUINLAN: Feel free to interject with what it is.
MR TEMPORARY DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Hird): Order! Mr Quinlan has the call and the Chair knows what it wants. It wants Mr Quinlan to address his remarks to the Chair.
MR QUINLAN: The ALP believes in progressive taxation. We believe in equity through payment according to means. At the same time, we must recognise that a progressive system may cause some problems for older residents in areas where land values are appreciating. I believe that it is incumbent upon government to actively promote the rates deferment system so that we can have a progressive system where people do pay according to means but at the same time we do not penalise those caught up in the particular areas of Canberra appreciating rapidly as the city develops. Overall, we cannot support the Bill.