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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 1 Hansard (14 February) . . Page.. 113 ..

Mr Berry: We are the ones with the ideas.

MR CORBELL: We are the ones with the policies. We are the ones with the legislation. We are the ones progressing the issue and bringing on debate in this place. The minister has said nothing in this place and has introduced no legislation in this place to address the problems which he has been spouting about in the community for the past six months.

What Labor proposes is clear and straightforward. Change of use charge is a tax and, as with any other tax, people do not like paying it. We in this place should treat it like any other tax and say, "You will pay the tax at the rate we set unless we perceive it to be in the public interest to remit a percentage of that tax as an incentive to encourage you to achieve certain outcomes." That is what governments Australia-wide and worldwide do. They remit tax as an incentive, but they do it in a targeted way. That is what this bill proposes we do with change of use charge.

This bill proposes that the tax be remitted in circumstances deemed by the government at the time to be appropriate and that such decisions be put forward to this Assembly, which may veto them. That is an open and accountable way of dealing with remission. Let the government of the day bring forward a disallowable instrument proposing remission in a particular area or for a particular purpose and let the Assembly decide whether that is unacceptable. If it is acceptable, no problem. It goes through and comes into force. If there is a problem, let the Assembly vote on the matter. That is an appropriate mechanism for dealing with remission.

Mr Smyth, in his comments earlier, suggested that the Labor Party was trying to slug ACT Housing more money for change of use charges relating to ACT Housing properties. The Labor Party's intention was simply to provide for the status quo as is currently outlined in the legislation and the regulations. The regulations currently state that there is a remission for the Commissioner for Housing for an amount equal to 25 per cent of the added value. Labor's bill, the bill we are debating today, simply translates that remission currently in the regulations into the act. There is no change to the level set; there is no change to the percentage. The bill simply translates from the regulations into the act. If the minister wants to make a complaint about the level of change of use charged to the Commissioner for Housing, he should perhaps look at his own portfolio responsibilities rather than blaming the Labor Party.

Mr Moore has circulated an amendment to reduce the rate to 50 per cent, which was the pre-existing longstanding rate. The Labor Party is quite happy to support that amendment.

A lot of words have been said in this debate about the need for certainty and stability. I could not agree more. We do need certainty and stability, but I ask members of this place to look at who have been the drivers behind the instability. Who have been the people pushing for change? It has not been the Labor Party. It has not been those members of this place who have argued time and again for a 100 per cent change of use charge.

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