Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 10 Hansard (24 September) . . Page.. 3641 ..
MR QUINLAN (continuing):
this place in relation to a minority government, and the relative representation of nine people who are not in the government, versus eight who are in the government. I am sure those people would want to put their shoulders to the wheel and assist in deliberating on this topic-not only from the aspect of being involved in the work, but also to make sure there is a balanced process.
After the rates system that I proposed was knocked back by this Assembly, I put in place, within Treasury, a review of the rating system. Included in the terms of reference was a request that the review include the social dimension of this. As recently as August this year, in response to discussions undertaken, a senior Treasury officer has written to me, saying:
The issue of rates concessions will also be examined in detail as part of the rates review to be undertaken this year. Treasury will discuss with your office regarding the scope, options, and outcome over the next two weeks or so.
We intend to take those matters into account. We were-and still intend to-trying to introduce what we believe is the fairest possible rates system. Any system imposed by government is going to be arbitrary to some extent. It cannot be completely discretionary and, unfortunately, cannot address each individual case.
Members can be assured that the government, from its perspective, is looking at rates concessions as part of its review of the rating system, in pursuit of a fair rating system. Members can also be assured that the ACT has a concession system in place for pensioners. I believe it is the most generous concession system in Australia, at the moment. We provide a concession of 50 per cent, with a cap of $250. The nearest cap to that is $200 in the Northern Territory, and in other states it is less than that. The cost of that concession for pensioners is heading towards $4 million a year.
The point we need to hammer home is that this is a review, and that the government is doing its part. I refer to context of the debate yesterday in relation to a number of trees somewhere in the northern part of Canberra, and what members said, in this place, about roles and the division between the nine-the majority in this place-and the minority government of eight.
If we want the review to have the best input from all members of the Assembly, and to reflect the balance in this place in its deliberations, then it must be referred to a committee. I think the most appropriate committee would be the Public Accounts Committee; that is, at least supposedly, the committee with financial expertise!
I have moved the amendment that the motion be changed to a reference to the Public Accounts Committee. That is entirely appropriate, and consistent with much of what was said in this place yesterday. It is designed to ensure that the review is a balanced process. We would not want the government to come up with a number of ideas and then everybody virtually kicking those ideas around. We don't want everybody having several laps of the oval in relation to the review. It is obvious that this sort of review is appropriately referred to a committee.
MS TUCKER (4.55): I think it would be useful to remind members that the Public Accounts Committee is already at the end of an inquiry into revenue in the ACT, with