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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 3055 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

opposition is what sounds like the beginning of a campaign speech, with no substance about how to manage the taxes we place on the community, which are important to fund the services we demand.

Taxation is not there to punish people or to take away their hard-earned cash. It is to provide services for the common good that individuals cannot provide, such as schools, hospitals, roads, police, fire, emergency services, welfare and public housing. If we cut into taxes we cut into these services.

Core to what we need to discuss are the way the tax burden is spread among the community and the high tax burden we place on those who can least afford it. We have seen increased taxes hit those on low incomes, and we need to refocus the taxation system so that those who can afford to pay it do, supporting those who cannot.

The other concern is what we then do with the money we collect as taxes. It has been raised in a lot of discussion that the money we collect from taxes is not being spent in the way the community expects. Money has come in this year from the 2002-03 budget-$86 million extra in land sales and $24 million in stamp duty. The government has said this is a one-off, it is a boom and it is not recurrent.

We have yet to hear what they will do with this one-off surplus, as opposed to just keeping it there to make the bottom line look good. Some investment must be made to help those who are worse off in our community if we are going to make the ACT the place we all dream it will be, which is the most liveable of our societies.

We have already had some debates in this chamber about taxes that have been introduced over the past few years. We have had a debate about rate systems, stamp duty and paid parking. If we saw this money going back into areas where it benefits people-money from paid parking going into public transport, money from rates and stamp duty going into affordable housing-maybe the problems the community have would not be so great.

A lot of figures have been thrown about, by both sides of this house, relating to stamp duty. Stamp duty is the largest proportion of taxes collected by the ACT government. Whilst it is only a small proportion of the amount of money you put into paying for your house, it is a disincentive for those on low incomes and for those who are struggling to make ends meet. If the money collected through land taxes and rates were used to help these people possibly not pay that stamp duty and move into their own houses, the flow-on effects in terms of social wellbeing could be enormous.

I repeat my call to the government to look at how the revenue coming in is being allocated out and to remember that there are many people in this community who are having problems making ends meet and that housing is definitely one of the areas that need a great deal of attention.

MS GALLAGHER (Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services, Minister for Women and Minister for Industrial Relations) (4.42): I rise briefly to make a few comments, largely to support the comments of my colleagues here, but particularly those of Mr Quinlan when he referred to this as a very basic debate, a dumbing-down debate.

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