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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 1 Hansard (14 February) . . Page.. 112 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

Mr Corbell's bill allows the minister, by determination, to remit the 100 per cent change of use charge for particular development categories. This would be an appropriate mechanism to provide this incentive. However, I am concerned that this process is a bit loose, as there is no limit on what the minister can put in the determination. There is a check on this process, in that the determination is disallowable, but members know that it can be difficult to keep track of such determinations and to move a successful disallowance motion. I am therefore putting up an amendment to add that the remission provided for in the determination must produce some substantial public benefit to the territory and that the government must explain what this benefit is when it makes the determination. I will speak to my amendments further when I move them.

MR CORBELL (12.04), in reply: Yesterday the Minister for Urban Services tabled the quarterly statement on the level of change of use charge collected by the ACT government for the quarter from October last year to December last year. That document highlighted that in last quarter alone the ACT government proposed to collect just over $1.5 million in change of use charge. In the context of other taxes and charges such as rates, that is perhaps not a big figure. It is not an insignificant figure either. The $1.5 million is about the same amount as the government proposes to spend on reducing class sizes in the coming financial year.

I am surprised that it is up to the Labor Party to progress this debate in this place. I am surprised because time and again over the past three to six months we have seen those on the other side of this place, with the exception of Mr Moore, whinge and complain about the impact of a 100 per cent change of use charge on the ACT economy. I have seen reams of press statements spewed out from Mr Humphries' office and Mr Smyth's office attacking the Labor Party for its stance on change of use charge. I have seen Mr Humphries and Mr Smyth on the TV and I have heard them on the radio saying, "This is outrageous. This is terrible. We cannot afford to let this happen."

What did they do about it? Did they bring legislation into this place? No. Did they put forward alternative proposals in the public realm? No. They sat on their hands and they did nothing. So it galls me just a little when Mr Smyth comes into this place and gets stuck into the Labor Party for its so-called laziness. He should know that people in glass houses should not throw stones.

The legislation Labor introduced in November last year, before the sunset clause took effect, provided an appropriate framework for remission of change of use charge where it was in the public interest. That is the difference between this side of this place and the Liberal government. They do not believe in remitting where it is in the public interest. They just believe in remitting it. They believe in giving a blatant subsidy to whoever puts up a development proposal where a change of use is required in the lease. They believe you should automatically get a 25 per cent remission. In fact, six months ago, they believed you should have a 50 per cent remission. As my colleague Mr Berry pointed out, had they got 50 per cent, in six months time we would have heard them arguing, almost certainly, for 75 per cent remission, and so it would have go on.

Has it been the Labor Party in this place that has refused to engage on this issue? Has the Labor Party been obstructionist on this issue? Has it refused to let things progress? The answer is no.

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