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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (29 August) . . Page.. 3005 ..

Orders of the day-postponement

Ordered that orders of the day Nos 2 and 3, executive business, relating to the Statute Law Amendment Bill 2002 and the Districts Bill 2002, be postponed until a later hour.

Appropriation Bill 2002-2003

Detail stage

Schedule 1-Appropriations

Proposed expenditure-part 12-Urban Services, $274,144,000 (net cost of outputs), $88,492,000 (capital injection) and $15,194,000 (payments on behalf of the territory), totalling $377,830,000.

Debate resumed from 27 August 2002.

MR SPEAKER: The question is that Mr Quinlan's amendment No 4 be agreed to.

MR STEFANIAK (10.47): Mr Speaker, in using my second 10 minutes, I indicate that I will be delivering a speech for Mrs Cross, who is ill today and will not be joining us.

Mr Quinlan: You can have it incorporated in Hansard, if you like.

MR STEFANIAK: I will deliver it, thank you. Mr Speaker, the Urban Services Department has borne the brunt of the plague of secret tax increases contained in this budget. On this front, the government has been creative in its attempts to pass those off in a positive light.

We have seen rises in tip fees introduced as an environmental charge, the term the Liberals used in 1995 when they first established tip fees. However, a reading of Hansard at that time is rather revealing, as the then Labor opposition mocked and resisted the introduction of an environmental levy, predicting doom and gloom as massive amounts of rubbish would inevitably be dumped illegally on country roadsides. One former Labor member even went as far as to call it a despicable trick, a con and a tax dressed up as an environmental charge. However, now that Labor has its hands on the tiller, what has happened to the tip fees? The minister has suddenly had a Damascus road experience. The bright light has shone above his desk, the scales have come off his eyes and the fees that were once vehemently opposed have been increased, not removed. How things change so quickly!

Mr Speaker, the opposition does not oppose having tip fees. We see them as an important part of educating Canberrans to value their natural environment and to protect that environment. However, we do oppose the way the government has gone about its work on this issue. What the government has done smacks of just another way of slugging a bit more cash from an unsuspecting public. The rise is too small to look like a serious environmental levy. Instead, it is clearly just another tax increase. Unlike most of the budget, this part was a well-kept secret, a secret at the last election and a secret until budget day.

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