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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 4 Hansard (1 April) . . Page.. 1192 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

Andrew Whitecross, Labor Leader of the Opposition-your colleague, Mr Speaker-finished his speech on the current rating system with these words:

... Labor welcomes the fact that it has finally come and that the ACT will

now enjoy a fair rating system.

That current system, in the words of Mr Whitecross, should probably stay in place.

MRS DUNNE (6.07): The rating system and how it is equitably applied across the ACT has been one of hardy perennials of self-government. On Sunday, when I was going through some files at home, I found the collected papers of the 1995 election campaign. In the ratings that came out after the 1994 budget, the people of Bruce were slugged unmercifully and experienced a 25 per cent rate rise under the old system that was replaced by the Carnell government. This caused enormous grief to the incumbent Labor Party at the time. Liberal candidates across Belconnen made fast and loose with the extreme discomfort of the Labor Party because their rating system was palpably inequitable.

Getting rating systems rights is very difficult. The previous government spent a lot of time and a lot of effort and came up with a system that, as much as possible, flattened out the inequities. From time to time a suburb will become flavour of the month, the unimproved capital value in the area will go up and everybody will pay through the hip pocket. The rolling average rating system introduced by the previous government, as the Leader of the Opposition demonstrated so eloquently today, was recognised as fair and equitable by everybody in this place at the time.

From time to time you will be able to point out inequities or think that things might have been done in a better way. But nothing matches the inequities that the Treasurer proposes to dish up to the people of the ACT. During the election campaign in 2001 the Liberals demonstrated time and again that this process was ill-thought out and ill-conceived. Eighteen months after Mr Quinlan announced this scheme, we still see an ill-thought-out and ill-conceived notion of what is equity.

I would like to talk about a suburb that I lived in, Melba. It is quite close to where I live now. For about eight years, which is about the Canberra average, I lived in Melba. I would like to look at a couple of houses. For the property at 14 Grainger Circuit in Melba, the current rates are $586. Assuming that the long-term owner stays there, rates under the Treasurer's scheme will continue to increase by 3 per cent each year, or whatever the CPI is. Three per cent is roughly what it is at the moment. The property next door at 16 Grainger Circuit currently has the same rating value, because it has the same UCV. The rates are $586 a year.

If the good residents of No 16 sell their house and somebody buys it after 1 July, the new owner will be subject to the new rating scheme. Under the formula provided by the Treasurer, the rates on that property will increase by almost 30 per cent in the first year. Instead of going up by 3 per cent of $586, they go up to $761. By the end of next year the person at 14 Grainger Circuit will be paying $586, and the person next door at 16 Grainger Circuit will be paying $761.

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