Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (17 June) . . Page.. 1952 ..
We will see what the end of year number is by the end of September, when the final figures emerge. I simply wanted to make the point that the opposition has always been opposed to this levy. We welcome the removal of this levy, as an indication that the budget is as strong as we said it was.
MS TUCKER(5.28): Unlike Mr Smyth, I am disappointed that the government has decided not to impose the fire levy. It was something I was prepared to support. Mr Quinlan seemed to be under the impression that the Greens were opposing this levy. I do not know why, because we always said we would look at it.
I was interested to see, through estimates, support for the government's claims that many of the costs imposed on the community by the fires are not going to be covered by insurance. Once again, we have just heard an estimates debate where we see unmet need not being dealt with.
I find that hard to understand, when there is goodwill from the community to support a revenue-raising measure such as this. I saw support for the levy from the business community as a whole, from the social sector and the community in general. Of course, there were some individuals in the community who did not want to pay it. Nevertheless, on the whole, the feeling was that the levy was a reasonable thing and that, as a community, we could work together to try to deal with the extra costs.
I understand that the levy would not have been a recurrent source of revenue, but that does not mean there could not have been good things done with that money. We have to pay for the cost of the fires. In fact, we will be paying for some time to come, particularly in the environmental area. There was an opportunity here to, in some way, contribute to those extra costs.
Once again, we had the government saying it was not able to deal with the unmet need in housing, for example. That is about capital works. There was the potential for the government, if it has so much money now, to have accepted the reason it put in the first place for this levy-that was that these were extra costs imposed on the ACT. I do not understand why it suddenly had to change its position, when the community was supportive and we have so much unmet need. We could have spent money on the community.
MR QUINLAN(Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism and Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming) (5.30): In response to the Leader of the Opposition, it is clear that the opposition has set out on a path of effectively saying no to anything the government is doing. If we ever do change anything, you are bound to be right, because you have taken a most negative approach since coming to the opposition benches.
To Ms Tucker, let me say that, if I have the wrong impression, thinking that you were at one stage against this, I apologise. I have a recollection of, after an article in the Canberra Times saying, "Bang, bang, bang. This is not going to get up-it is going to be difficult."
Mr Smyth, you have made the concession that this is not recurrent expenditure and that we cannot set up ongoing programs on the basis of this because, effectively, it has been