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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 2800 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

The Treasurer has said that this measure is designed to distribute the land tax burden more equitably between the business sector and households. I understand that these rates have not been changed since 1993, so it is probably time that they were reviewed. I do not have an objection to these changes, as they are in line with the Greens' view that land tax should be a progressive tax focused more on those landholders who can afford to pay.

Overall, I have no wish to deny the government the opportunity to raise additional revenue to fund the government services the community desires, provided the revenue is raised in an equitable and environmentally responsible manner. Generally, these measures fit these criteria, so I will be supporting this bill.

MR STEFANIAK (11.07): This is a nothing budget. It hardly stirred much interest in the community. I tend to agree with Mr Smyth, who called it a lazy budget that lacks vision.

I will deal with some good things to start with. It is a budget that is in surplus. Despite all the prophecies of doom and gloom and incorrect figures that have been bandied about by the government on where the opposition left the territory, it is a testimony to the hard work that was done over the last seven years and seven budgets to get the territory back in the black after the fairly difficult times it was in in the early and mid-1990s. The reason for the surplus squarely rests with the efforts of previous Liberal governments, which did a very good job in getting the territory back into the black and putting us in the very healthy situation we are in today-a situation this current government inherited and I hope does not stuff up.

There are A couple of worrying signs. There is a lack of delivering on promises in some areas. That is of concern. I will deal with a few of those in more detail when we come to the detail stage.

There are some worrying signs about increases in taxes. The increases in payroll tax and land tax amount to about $10 million. I do not agree with a lot of what Ms Tucker says, but I think she was quite right in describing payroll tax as a tax on employment. I can remember sitting through cabinet meetings during our time when we constantly raised the threshold to enable businesses to employ more people. That is a good thing for business. It helps generate business. It creates more employment, and it helps those people who otherwise would not be able to get a job. That has a concertina effect on other businesses.

You need to be very careful with land tax. All states have it and we have it. There have been increases in land tax. I think Mr Humphries will be having more to say, but if you make too many imposts you turn investors off. The territory cannot afford to do that. Taxes and incentives influence whether people come here to set up businesses, which of course employ people. We have seen how sensibly targeted measures and restrictions on overtaxing, even in the difficult times in the late 1990s in getting the budget back into surplus, can generate employment and growth.

Overtaxing and dampening incentives for business to operate and employ more people-and land tax is just as important as payroll tax-are very real problems. They have been a problem over many decades with various Labor governments. Whilst since the 1980s

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