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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (20 November) . . Page.. 4381 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

legislative reforms are being proposed to accommodate a small minority of the Canberra community. The government is committed to fair, equitable treatment for all people, and that includes people in all sorts of minority groups. I do not accept the argument that we should not seek to attain equitable treatment under the law for people with particular attributes simply because there may not be all that many of them in our community.

This legislation is for all Canberrans. It gives effect to the simple but fundamental principles of equality before the law, and I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Stefaniak ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Revenue Legislation Amendment Bill 2003 (No 3)

Mr Quinlan , pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by clerk.

MR QUINLAN (Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism, and Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming) (10.50): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Deputy Speaker, the Revenue Legislation Amendment Bill 2003 (No 3) is an omnibus bill. It amends the Rates and Land Tax Act 1926 to clarify the method of imposing land tax on units. It also amends the Taxation Administration Act 1999 to protect the secrecy of taxpayer information collected under the Taxation (Administration) Act 1987.

Mr Deputy Speaker, the Rates and Land Tax Act was originally Commonwealth legislation. In 1987 the Commonwealth introduced land tax in the ACT by amending its Rates Ordinance 1926, which became the Rates and Land Tax Ordinance 1926 within the ACT jurisdiction. With the introduction of self-government on 11 May, this ordinance did become the ACT's Rates and Land Tax Act 1926.

Limited material available from 1987 clearly indicates that the policy intent was to impose land tax on unit plans in accordance with the existing practice of imposing rates on unit plans. That is the practice now used. This practice apportioned the unimproved value of the unit plan in accordance with the unit entitlement of the particular unit before working out the amount of rates to be paid.

Mr Deputy Speaker, from 1 January 1987, this method of calculation was used satisfactorily as long as all the units in the unit plan were liable to land tax. This was the case prior to 1 August 1991, at which time residential land became liable to land tax if it was not the owner's principal place of residence. A further complication was introduced in July 1993 when the charge was changed from a flat percentage to progressive rates of land tax.

Legal advice has indicated that provisions imposing land tax on units may be interpreted differently to the current practice. If land tax was imposed strictly in accordance with the wording of the current provisions, the taxpayer may well be disadvantaged.

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