Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (19 June) . . Page.. 2108 ..
MR QUINLAN (continuing):
the ACT to suspend this duty for three months while we do examine what I think are some quite telling arguments about the way we may levy this duty.
The act of withdrawing the bill and replacing it purely allows us to be able to bring the duty back to the Assembly for its approval within the year. If it was removed from the original act by amendment it would otherwise lapse for that 12 months. I'm sorry, I apologise to the Assembly, but we do want to consult with people.
There have been, as I said, a couple of issues raised in relation to this that we didn't take into account, quite frankly, when the duty was included in the budget. I still think it's a reasonable duty to impose, but I do intend to consult with the industry on it. So I do ask that the Assembly indulge us to allow this matter to be discharged and replaced by the cut-down version.
MR SMYTH(Leader of the Opposition) (11.05): Mr Speaker, the opposition will be supporting the discharge of the original bill as it stands because we've raised many of the concerns that I'm now pleased the Treasurer has listened to and will be seeking to ameliorate. The dilemma of course is: why wasn't this consultation undertaken before the bill was proposed?
It is a significant burden. With its introduction, the ACT would have become one of the highest conveyancing duty bound jurisdictions in the country, and that's a concern that's been put to me by many, many different groups.
I also have doubts about the numbers that the Treasurer has put against it in the budget. I've been informed of some transactions that would raise that amount of revenue for the government in a single transaction. Some of the people have put it to me that the government may raise as much as 20 times what they had estimated. That's sloppy.
When we're passing taxes, we need to know the quantum of what it is the government will raise. I think we need to know why they are raising it; what they see the benefit of it is; whether it simply is just a revenue raising measure; indeed, the quantum of how much revenue they might raise; and, then, what impact raising that revenue would have on the individuals upon whom it is placed.
None of that work was done. When we probed some of this in the Estimates Committee, I found the answers that I received to be unsatisfactory. I believe others did as well, simply because in many cases the Treasurer couldn't answer or the officials said the work really hadn't been done or it was based on guesses or the data that they had to hand.
For instance, one of the questions we asked was: "How many such transactions were there? Have you talked to the banks?"The answer was: "Well, we didn't know how many transactions the banks did. We haven't talked to the banks because we took it off our own data."
That's not the way you calculate how much revenue you are likely to raise. It was a guess. It was a guesstimate instead of an estimate. If the work had been done and the Treasurer had been convincing, then perhaps he wouldn't be going through this process here today.