Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 1 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 166 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
A comprehensive budget process also needs to review taxation revenues. The current system of taxes needs to be reviewed to ascertain its equity, efficiency and effectiveness.
Mr Speaker, perhaps I am overly cynical, having been in this place for so long, but it sounds to me like we are being warned here that there could be taxation increases, or even new taxes being imposed by the incoming government. In reading these words, I am reminded of the fact that somewhat carelessly-there is no-one in the press gallery at the moment-no member of the media in my hearing asked the then shadow Treasurer whether he would guarantee that there would be no increases in taxation under a new Labor government. Somewhat fortuitously, he was never asked that question and they did not have to give an answer to it. The suggestion on page 10 seems to me to be fairly clear that new taxation or increased taxation levels are being considered. I have to say, Mr Speaker, that that is a matter of some concern, particularly because it was not clearly foreshadowed before the last election.
Mr Quinlan has confirmed that there will be a new rating system. That is, broadly speaking, what he said before the last election and I welcome his dedication to the agenda outlined before the election. That is something that we believe ought to be pursued because of its being put before the people so clearly. But I do note one significant variation to what was proposed during the election campaign. Mr Quinlan said during the lead-up to the election that Labor would base the rates projection in a particular year on the previous year's CPI, that is, that the actual increase in costs in the previous year would be the basis for the following year's increase in rates. That has changed. On page 11 of Mr Quinlan's statement, that now becomes "a more accurate CPI multiplier to general rates".
That is not what was said before the election. I do not know what it means, I do not know what that figure would be; but, as I forecast at the time, it will not be, clearly, the previous year's CPI because the previous year's CPI is not known until well after the end of the financial year. So you cannot put out your rates notices or calculate your rates income in a budget brought down in, say, June as you will not know what the CPI is going to be for that present financial year in which you bring it down for the following year.
Mr Speaker, I welcome the audit which is being conducted. I am confident that it will demonstrate that the previous government's accounts systems were open. I also welcome the charter of financial integrity. We look forward to contributing to debate in this place on that charter and maybe even to adding to that charter to ensure that it will be comprehensive in the accountability that it will build into financial processes in this place in the future.
MR SMYTH (4.16): Mr Speaker, there is much in the statement that could be welcomed. There are some initiatives to support small business that are worth while. There are moves to support the unemployed in their quest to seek jobs, which is always worth while.
Working slowly through the paper delivered by the minister, he got to Operation Anchorage fairly early in the piece and said: