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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 4080 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

Amendment agreed to.

Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.

Remainder of bill, by leave, taken as a whole and agreed to.

Bill, as amended, agreed to.

Revenue Legislation Amendment Bill 2002 (No 2)

Debate resumed from 14 November 2002, on motion by Mr Quinlan:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR HUMPHRIES (11.48): The opposition will support this bill, although it has had to undertake some consultation with the business community of Canberra to establish exactly what the bill is about. In conducting that consultation, I noted that we trod a path not previously trodden by the government, with the result that there was some concern and even alarm in the business community about aspects of this legislation. It is a pity that the opposition had to be the ones to bring the bill to the attention of the business community in the first place.

This bill is, for the most part, minor and technical in nature, and provides that there should be a number of clarifications to effect the general intention of the original legislation that was put forward in this place. For example, a flaw has been identified in the first home owners legislation enacted a couple of years ago in response to the federal government's initiative to provide a first home owners grant. That provision provided that, before a certain date, ownership of a house or property would preclude a person from taking advantage of the first home owners scheme.

Subsequently, of course, people have acquired some properties after the particular date that was specified and technically, therefore, qualify for ownership and may apply for a first home owners grant. Clearly, the intention of the legislation is that such grants should only be available to people who have not previously owned a home. This legislation makes that clear. It brings the intention in line with the wording of the legislation. There are also provisions allowing for the recovery of fees for certain conveyancing-related services. That appears to be the current practice and, if the legislation now aligns the law with the practice, that would be a good thing.

The only provision in the legislation that gave me and some of the business organisations in Canberra concern was effectively the removal of the term "city area"as a basis for the calculation of rates and land tax in the territory. The Treasurer's office was kind enough to supply me with a map this morning, showing where the city area actually is. Members might care to have a look at this. It is not, as one might imagine, the area of the city which is built up, but in fact a very large swathe of the territory, the boundaries of which are determined by things like the Molonglo River and lines drawn between mountains or hills in the territory, with the result that the area is quite large.

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