Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (26 June) . . Page.. 2555 ..
The Commonwealth Grants Commission expects all states and territories to raise a substantial amount of core revenue from gambling. In fact, the commission is of the view that the ACT government should increase our gambling tax take by 40 per cent. It believes that since Canberrans have high average levels of disposable income, we should be happy to lose more of it through gambling. However, the Grants Commission fails to properly recognise that it is often the poorest and most vulnerable in our community who gamble and lose the most.
I also recognise that by creating a higher rate of tax on the very large clubs there may a be slightly greater incentive for Canberra's pokie palaces to consider reducing their total number of machines to come in under the threshold for the higher rate of tax. I am not certain that this outcome is likely but it is something that we can hope for.
I have no difficulty with the other revenue measure in the bill that introduces a low rate of duty for transfers of property within a corporate conglomerate. This rate of duty is 5 per cent at the full rate. I have not heard any great outcry protesting against this change, which I believe is unlikely to cause significant hardship to corporations operating in the ACT. Clearly, we need to maximise revenue wherever we can, provided the revenue measures fall on those who can afford to pay.
I will be supporting this bill in its entirety, while continuing to harbour reservations. I will speak in greater detail on Mr Smyth's amendment during the detail stage.
MS MacDONALD(12.05): Mr Speaker, I rise to speak in support of the bill and against the amendment-no surprise there. What is proposed, Mr Speaker, is a small increase in tax which will really affect only the clubs with a large turnover. The government, in essence, is introducing an increased gambling tax on the top clubs in the ACT to raise $3 million.
The club industry, of course, contributes greatly to the social and entertainment activities of the ACT community but, compared with other jurisdictions, clubs in the ACT are the only ones with the benefits of gambling at the current time. This government believes that is the way it should remain because the clubs are the ones that are actually contributing to the community. Obviously, we are opposed to gambling being extended to pubs and taverns.
We are talking about only a small percentage increase and it is therefore reasonable to increase the amount paid by the large clubs. It is hardly an impost on them. I understand that the New South Wales government has just announced that there are going to be significant increases in gambling taxes, with top rates being increased to up to 40 per cent in the next six years.
Of course we would prefer not to rely on gambling taxes, but we do not really have much choice when we are having money taken away from us by the Commonwealth. We need to continue to pay for our health, education and housing, and all of the other things that the ACT community expects of us. There is an expectation by the community that we need to provide those services and we have to raise revenue in some fashion. In short, there is a necessity to put in place this slight increase-an increase on which the ACT government is not dependent but one which will assist us with our revenue raising.