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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 10 Hansard (24 September) . . Page.. 3640 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

There are many different ways of shaping a concession scheme to help those in need. I am confident that the government has the expertise to work through these alternatives-all it needs is the will to do it. I hope the Assembly supports the motion to call on the government to do this work. The ACT government has at its disposal experts working in the Department of Treasury. It also has the ability to coordinate communication between economy experts, the welfare sector and people currently living in housing stress. This is the reason we have governments.

I believe the ACT government needs to be doing this work. When we had the debate earlier this year, there were many calls for this work to take place, but nothing happened. It is now time for the government to revisit the rates scheme, open up the debate again and have the dialogue with the community at large, as to how we can make the rates system in the ACT fairer and more equitable, and apply concessions to those most in need.

There are a number of amendments floating around at the moment. I hope the debate on those will be substantial-so we can see where they are coming from. I think Mr Cornwell's concerns are already addressed in the motion. I would like to hear the Treasurer's concerns behind the amendment he has circulated.

I hope the Assembly supports this motion, which we think is quite basic, to call on the ACT government to develop a proposal to provide rates concessions to all people on low incomes, including more generous concessions to pensioners. Hopefully, this will be on the table by the end of this year. The debate can then take place, and we can come up with a fairer rates system for 2004-05.

I trust the government will consult with economic, welfare and housing experts, to determine the most effective concession scheme and eligibility criteria, so we will get an ACT rates system that is both fiscally responsible and equitable. I commend the motion to the house.

MR QUINLAN (Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism, and Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming) (4.48): I move the amendment circulated in my name, which reads:

Omit "ACT Government", substitute "Public Accounts Committee".

I will speak to both the motion and the amendment. I am sure members are aware that the government already provides concessions. This government does not claim to have invented that, by any means. There is a rates concession scheme on foot, but it applies only to pensioners. In practical terms, that makes it a very workable system.

The condition of being on a low income is often a transient process-some people are in and out of work, but I do not particularly want to debate that. The government will generally support the motion. I think it is a worthy objective to analyse the position we are in, make comparisons and look at the practicability of bringing a scheme into place.

Referring to my amendment, I would consider that this would be more appropriately done by a committee of the Assembly. Only yesterday, many lofty words were used in

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