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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 4361 ..

MRS BURKE (continuing):

By using this principle to implement taxation measures, the legislature will be ensuring that the fundamental taxing measure is not made unnecessarily complex through adding provisions, setting thresholds and rates remission and so on. We are all well aware of the Commonwealth's income tax legislation, an essentially simple concept that has been made extraordinarily complex over many years of seeking to provide for special circumstances or different conditions. As a nation, we now have income tax legislation that is effectively incomprehensible to the ordinary person and is the domain of people with very specialised knowledge. I recognise that this is an extreme example, but the message remains. It is not a good approach to making taxation policy to combine the policy framework with provisions for concessions.

I have made these comments to provide a context in which to consider the proposal from Ms Dundas for the provision of what she has described as land tax concessions. I am not suggesting that there shouldn't be such concessions, but rather that any concessions that may be provided are done separately from the land tax policy itself.

Through this approach, the land tax policy will not be made unnecessarily complex through creating boundary issues-that is, in having to determine whether someone is over or under a threshold-or other complexities. A further advantage of this approach is that any concessions that are provided against the full impact of land tax should be clearly identified in the budget and the subsequent financial statements. It would be possible for the legislature and the community to see, in relation to the land tax, to continue my example, that the full imposition of land tax should raise, say, $50 million in a given year and that, separately, the value of concessions provided against that policy might be $5 million. Through this approach, it will be possible for governments, the Assembly and the community to evaluate both the impact of the taxing measure itself and the magnitude of the concessions that have been provided.

I believe that this is the approach we, as a legislature, should adopt when considering such proposals as the one we have from Ms Dundas today. Through this approach, we should enhance understanding in the community of the taxing measure and of any associated concessions, and we should enhance the administration of both the tax policy and the concession regime. Of course, there may be some people who would wish to see the greatest possible complexity in public policy. Is this the lawyer's argument? But I would argue that this is not an appropriate approach to policy making in relation to taxation measures.

I certainly commend the motion, and I also commend the approach that I have outlined as the way we should proceed if Ms Dundas's motion is successful.

MS TUCKER (5.46): The Greens will be supporting this motion. Affordable housing is a very pressing need, and I think we all agree on that. Research into just how to encourage more affordable housing is, if not plentiful, at least certainly available. Ms Dundas proposes in this motion that the government investigate targeted land tax concessions to encourage landlords to provide affordable and suitable housing to low-income earners. This is similar, in a way, to my proposal that negative gearing could be better targeted to encourage lower-rental properties being built, developed and purchased.

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