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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 13 Hansard (27 November) . . Page.. 4787 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

The bill will facilitate fair and effective operation of the ACT First Home Owner Grant Act for the community's benefit by addressing inadequacies in the current eligibility criteria. Mr Speaker, I commend the First Home Owner Grant Amendment Bill 2003 to the Assembly.

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

Rates Bill 2003

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) (10.44): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, currently the Rates and Land Tax Act 1926 and the Rates and Land Rent (Relief) Act 1970 deal with the imposition and administration of rates and their concessions, as well as land tax. The Rates Bill 2003 is a result of combining the rating provisions from the Rates and Land Tax Act with the concession provisions from the rates relief act. As both of these acts will no longer be required, they will be repealed by this bill. I will also introduce a new bill into the Assembly today, a land tax bill dealing solely with land tax. The acts resulting from both of these new bills will be administered under the Taxation Administration Act 1999.

Mr Speaker, as these bills do not introduce any significant policy changes from the acts to be repealed, I shall limit my comments to the reasons the bills are necessary and the administrative changes they introduce. The Rates and Land Tax Act was originally a 1926 Commonwealth ordinance. With the introduction of self-government this ordinance, which had already been amended numerous times, became the Rates and Land Tax Act 1926.

Over the years, large sections have been inserted and there have been frequent ad hoc amendments. The current provisions are convoluted, inconsistent and frequently use outdated language. The format is not logical and the provisions are often difficult to follow. Some provisions apply to both imposts, some to rates and others to land tax.

The rates relief act was also originally a Commonwealth ordinance and historically provided for deferral and rebate of all rates and land rent charges for eligible persons. Relief for land rent and for water and sewerage rates has been taken up by other legislation. As this act now applies only to rates, it is appropriate to move the remaining provisions to the rates bill. For these reasons, the bills are necessary to bring the administration of rates and their concessions and land tax into line with other ACT tax legislation. The new bills will reflect the current drafting practice and make the legislation clearer, more logical and less complex.

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