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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 3 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 592 ..

Emergency services levy

MR HIRD: Mr Speaker, I have a question for Mr Humphries in his capacity as Treasurer. Treasurer, I draw your attention to remarks made recently by none other than Mr Quinlan on the subject of the government's commitment to return $10 million in revenue cuts to the community. Is that, as Mr Quinlan has suggested, a one-off community dividend?

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I thank Mr Hird for that question. Yes, I have seen the statement of Mr Quinlan, which is on the Labor Party's web site. I recommend the web site to members who want to get a bit of a lift, a bit of a kick. It is a very enjoyable place to go for a bit of a laugh, a bit of a giggle. Mr Speaker, the things that the media will not run usually end up on the Labor Party web site, so I have had a look at that site and seen a release by Mr Quinlan in which he gets stuck into what he describes as the government's discredited and hated emergency services levy.

I had not noticed crowds outside baying for the blood of the government over the discredited and hated emergency services levy. I have to say that I would like to know, Mr Speaker, why it is that the levy which is discredited and hated in the ACT and which is being applied in exactly the same way across the border in New South Wales is apparently respected and loved in the hands of the Labor government of that state. I do not know why. Perhaps it is the way in which the money is taken out of your pocket in New South Wales that makes all the difference.

Mr Speaker, the nub of the release, though, is what Mr Quinlan says later. Talking about the repeal of the emergency services levy, he says:

So we have a situation where the Government has taken $30 million out of your pockets-


and is only putting $10 million back. That sounds like a very Liberal deal.

Further on he says:

...the best the Government can do is a $10 million hand back, and only after they took $30 million.

I am not sure what Mr Quinlan is referring to. If he is referring to the cancellation of the emergency services levy, the levy is being cancelled indefinitely, permanently, for as long as any of us are able to foresee such things, forever if you like.

Mr Quinlan: So you are giving $100 million back, are you?

MR HUMPHRIES: On Mr Quinlan's calculation, yes, it is a lot of money. If you are going to add the $30 million taken out of people's pockets over the last three years that the levy was in place, you would have to say that over the next 10 years with the reduced levy there would be $100 million put back into the pockets of the people of the ACT.

Mr Hargreaves: It is their money in the first place.

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