Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 7 Hansard (4 June) . . Page.. 1813 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

of rates are not reflecting their often smaller incomes. Equally, the effects on the young, the unemployed and the disabled need to be examined, as these groups are often under financial stress and the imposition of high charges only adds to their difficulties.

In summary, I will support the bill, even though it delivers a lot less than the government would like us to think. It does, however, represent some short-term relief for residents, compared with the current legislation, and for that I am willing to add my support.

MR QUINLAN (Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism, Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming and Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Corrections) (11.24), in reply: I thank the crossbench members for their support. This bill is actually a budget bill. I understand that the opposition wishes to oppose it. This bill commences the process of delivering an election promise that was made by the government to cap the annual increase in the rates charged to existing owner occupiers to the CPI.

The Leader of the Opposition spent a considerable amount of time worrying about which CPI was used, which I would submit to the house is a secondary issue to the proposition that we actually want to have a continuing cap at the CPI for residents as long as they stay in the particular premises. To put into perspective the objections that Mr Humphries has expressed to the bill, I am informed that over the six years of Liberal government rates were increased by 16 per cent, whereas the actual CPI increased by 9 per cent. In fact, if there were to be distortion, it would be in the preservation of what the Liberal government had done over the past six years.

The process that we had before today involved, I would imagine, quite difficult manipulations to try to make it work, to try to keep the total rates revenue take down to CPI, albeit a projected CPI, but yet incorporate into it unimproved land values that were shifting about, and we got even greater distortion. We had the distortion of 16 per cent instead of 9 per cent. The example I remember from last year was of an increase in the average rates in Narrabundah of about 9 per cent and a reduction in the rates charged in O'Malley of 0.5 per cent or something like that, even though land values in both suburbs increased in different proportions, but nevertheless increased. Mr Humphries, quite rightly, kept referring to the cost of services. Hopefully, there is some degree of progressive taxation in the fact that we charge on unimproved values. Nevertheless, we are aware, of course, that we are charging people for city services along the way.

The government's promise, and I guess it was my promise, before the election was, I think, a fairly radical promise. I may well have a tiger by the tail in terms of trying to make this system work. I am confident that it can be made to work, but there is a lot of work to be done and we will be attempting to bring forward the full suite of changes necessary to insulate residents who stay in one place for a considerable length of time from violent fluctuations in their rates, despite the fact that land values may shift around.

It has to be said, as I think it has been said previously in this debate today, that land is the major asset of the territory. I think Ms Tucker said that. That is certainly recognised by the government. We recognise that there have been very substantial increases in the value of land in some areas of Canberra and there have been some very significant windfall gains made in capital value. I would like to give a couple of examples. From 1999 to 2002, over the space of four years, the value of the average block of land in the

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .