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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (19 June) . . Page.. 2114 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

have become the party of division and unfairness. It will pitch neighbour against neighbour.

This government and this Treasurer must undertake a careful review of proposals to change the ACT rating system, if for no other reason than to ensure there are no unintended consequences. Any reasonable Treasurer would prepare very thoroughly for such a major change in policy and certainly would undertake more analysis than the preparation of a one-page graph as his defence. On the evidence to date, this Treasurer has not demonstrated that he is capable of developing and implementing major changes in public policy.

I remain concerned that a major change in policy is being proposed by the Treasurer and that there continues to be little evidence of thorough analysis being undertaken of the impact and consequences of the policy change. My concern is with the approach which assumes a policy would be accepted by the community with no discussion-or at best an inadequate discussion-of the proposed policy. Is this a sign of arrogance, Mr Speaker? Is this a sign of this government saying that they know what is right for ratepayers, irrespective of the views of the community?

We, as the opposition, reject that approach-and indeed the community in the submissions they gave at the public hearings rejected that approach. We devised the current rating policy when in government and undertook extensive consultations involving your own party, along with many other groups.

Arrogance is a sign of laziness and laziness in government is simply not acceptable. If you are tired of being in government for this territory, let me know, Mr Treasurer, and a Smyth Liberal government will show you how it should be done.

Mr Speaker, this bill is not a sign of good government. It appears to involve complex administration. It seeks to replace a policy which has not been shown to be deficient. It does not give good outcomes, and it does not represent good public policy-making. We will oppose the bill.


(11.29): The Greens will not be supporting the Rates and Land Tax Amendment Bill either. The Public Accounts Committee, of which I am a member, looked into this bill. I spoke in some detail about this when the report was tabled. Therefore, I will not speak on it at length today but will just make some basic points.

The Greens are not prepared to support this because, firstly, we do not think it has been properly thought through. There is a balance required between equity and efficiency in developing any tax or rates system. There was, pretty well, consensus on the fact that this bill does not adequately address either equity or efficiency very well. When I say "consensus", I acknowledge that there were a couple of submitters who did not share that view-and obviously the government does not share that view. From the evidence the committee heard from the business community, the social justice community, the Council on the Ageing and so on, it was made clear that there are significant concerns about this.

We have recommended in the report that there be further work done on reviewing the current rates system. I think it is important that this work is based, as much as possible,

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