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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 13 Hansard (26 November) . . Page.. 4719 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

I believe it is important that we maintain a separation between the policy that implements the rating system for the territory and the system that provides the concessions.

On the one hand, Mr Speaker, we may make a policy decision setting out the rating system as we agree to it in the Assembly. On the other hand, any measures which must implement concessions to reduce the impact of the rates must be implemented as a separate policy decision. The integrity of the rating system and the rating policy itself should remain intact.

Mr Speaker, some benefits of this approach to the provision of concessions are that the original policy is not made more complex than necessary and, perhaps more importantly, this approach enables any concession to be targeted to specific groups in the community as perhaps a new need may arise. The concessions would be targeted to specific groups in our community-for example, to such people as those whose household incomes fall below a certain threshold-and the concession would be provided as a payment of some amount of compensation or through the remission of part of the rates bill or in some other way.

Mr Speaker, through adopting this approach to the implementation of a rating system, the Assembly would be ensuring that the rating policy does not become overly complex through adding requirements for thresholds and rates for remission and so on.

The other thing is, Mr Speaker: threshold creep, or income creep or bracket creep occurs or special needs arise; we wouldn't be coming back to adjust the rating system; we, the government, could, through perhaps a policy decision or a disallowable instrument, actually do that instantly, as would be appropriate.

Mr Speaker, the other thing that does concern me, though, is that there has been a review of concessions across the government, and it has been carried out now for more than 21/2 years. It is something that the previous government started. We started an across-the-government review of concessions, which of course would include the rating system. I think the shame is-and it is becoming so characteristic of this government-that two years into their first term they have done nothing to facilitate and bring that concession review back to the Assembly and back to the public at large.

The Treasurer might leap to his feet and tell us where that review is and how quickly we may get it. It is interesting, though, that, two years into the term of this government, nothing seems to have been done.

Mr Speaker, the value of this approach to the implementation of a revenue-raising policy and of an associated set of concessions is that it will enable the government, the Assembly and the community to evaluate both the impact of the rating system and the magnitude of any concession to ameliorate the impact of that system.

Mr Speaker, we support the motion; we will be supporting the amendment; and we look forward to the government's answer in the future.

MR QUINLAN (Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism and Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming) (6.01): Mr Speaker-

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