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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 3048 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

look at the other years. In 2000-01, when the Liberals did set the budget, the difference in expenditure between what was budgeted and the final result was $158 million. The bottom line was out from the original estimate by $56 million. The variances for years have been of the order of magnitude that we are seeing now.

In large part, the differences you see this year are fully explained, as seen in the land sales values. Did the repository of hindsight over there ever say before when we brought down the budget, "You're not allowing enough for land sales?"No. They accepted the estimate. Did they say in any of the budgets, "You have underestimated your revenue for land sales?"No; only towards the end of the year when we all knew that was happening anyhow.

That is, I have to say, somewhat frustrating. It is, again, one of those repetitions of Mr Smyth's attempt to dumb down debate in the ACT about matters financial and about matters political. That is a great shame. I am not going to table it again because I have tabled it once, but if members would like a little copy of the table that demonstrates just how different original budgets and final results have been, please call my office.

I have to speak about some of the other matters that Mr Smyth did mention. Of course, being from the Liberal Party, he is the man of business. He thinks we should improve on payroll tax. One of the reasons that our budget result is better than expected is that we are doing very well in payroll tax; business is booming. What are we trying to achieve by changing the payroll tax regime? There is no foundation to the claim that the payroll tax regime that we have is inhibiting business; on the contrary. Look at the results.

Let me put our payroll tax regime in perspective. In New South Wales, if you employed eight people all year at average weekly earnings you would start to pay payroll tax. In the ACT, you would have to employ 23 people at average weekly earnings before you paid payroll tax because of the different structure. At average weekly earnings, you would have to employ nearly 100 people before you would pay more in the ACT than you would pay against the national average or New South Wales. Our current payroll tax regime is now very favourable to small and medium business. Because there is no depth of thought on the other side of this house, they say, "What will we talk about? Let's talk about tax. We will talk about payroll tax.

Stamp duty has come up. John Howard and Peter Costello speak about stamp duty, so they had better get on that bandwagon. Of course John Howard and Peter Costello are going to do so. They want to shift blame to the states for the high cost of housing. I have stood on my feet in recent times in this place and said that housing costs are not cost driven; they are driven by the market, for god's sake. Look at the results of the first home owners grant. Who got the money? The sellers got the money and the builders got the money, not the first home owners.

Someone questioned earlier today why the number of first home owners has fallen away. If I might digress into the housing question, if we want to make great change, immediate change, in the housing market and in housing affordability, we need to be very careful because out there is a whole raft of first home owners who just bought a house and, if we get stuck into the market and knock the bottom out of it, there are going to be people out there who have mortgages that are worth more than the house they live in. We do not want to do that, so there needs to be, please, just a little bit more sophistication of

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