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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (11 March) . . Page.. 859 ..


MR SPEAKER: Before we move to question time, I would like to acknowledge the presence of Mr Kaine in the gallery.

Questions without notice

Land rates-new system

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Treasurer, Mr Quinlan. Peter Jansen, the President of the Property Owners and Ratepayers Association of the ACT has labelled the government's draft rating system as a "huge rip-off"and a "con job"which would lead to a situation where "eventually one neighbour could be paying double the amount of rates of the next neighbour". Is the government introducing this discriminatory ratings system to prop up a "pretty crook"budget?

MR QUINLAN: Yes, I did meet with Mr Jansen, a former Liberal candidate for this House of Assembly. We had a fairly civil meeting and I think Mr Jansen came to the startling discovery that if you did not tinker with the rating system-either the proposed or the past rating system-in some way each year, the rates could skyrocket, and that certainly is the case. It has been the case that the formula for the levying of rates has been tinkered with for quite a number of years, and has caused some quite differential results.

Mr Smyth used the word "inequitable"or "discriminatory". There have been some quite discriminatory outcomes from the previous system. The last time a Liberal government changed and levied rates, I think we had a 9 per cent increase in the rates in the suburb of Narrabundah while there was about a 11/2 per cent decrease in the rates of the suburb of O'Malley. These were quite unsatisfactory results. So the government is certainly moving to introduce some equity into the system. Certainly, the system proposed will create a situation where some people living cheek by jowl will pay different levels of rates down the track, as they do now-some people get a rates rebate remission; some people are on rates deferral. Those things happen now.

The proposed system is designed to protect people who live in a given suburb and want to stay in that given suburb and not be rated out of that given suburb, as has happened under the prevailing system. But theoretically-and I will have to concede that Mr Jansen is right-the rates take could increase at a greater rate than the CPI, as it could under the system previously used by a Liberal government, as it could under any system. Every year the government of the day has made a decision to adjust the rates formula, both the fixed amount threshold occasionally and the rate itself, the multiplier, in order to achieve a result-an unsatisfactory result, I have to say, and a result that has previously caused people that I know to be effectively rated out of the house and the premises they would prefer to stay in amongst friends and a network that they have built up.

So, yes, we are building a system that will provide for a rebate that will accrue and increase as people stay in the same place. If you happen to live in a suburb which is a fairly run-of-the-mill suburb today and somehow tomorrow it becomes desirable and the

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