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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 5000 ..

The Assembly voted-

Ayes 6

Noes 11

Mrs Burke

Mr Berry

Ms MacDonald

Mr Cornwell

Mr Corbell

Mr Quinlan

Mrs Dunne

Mrs Cross

Mr Stanhope

Mr Pratt

Ms Dundas

Ms Tucker

Mr Smyth

Ms Gallagher

Mr Wood

Mr Stefaniak

Mr Hargreaves

Question so resolved in the negative.

MR SMYTH (Leader of the Opposition) (12.24): The opposition supports the Revenue Legislation Amendment Bill. The opposition attempted to adjourn debate on the bill simply to make the point that the government is introducing a large amount of legislation in the last sitting week of this Assembly. The government has not said that any of this legislation is urgent. However, if the government states that a bill is urgent, for example, the Totalcare bill that will be introduced later, the opposition will oblige the government by assisting it to achieve its aims. The government should not introduce bills in the last sitting week of the Assembly and expect us to pass them during the same parliamentary session. Members should note the importance of having time to consider and to consult in relation to any of the bills that might have a retrospective effect.

That was the purpose of the opposition's thwarted attempt to adjourn debate on the bill. However, as I said earlier, the opposition supports the bill. The Treasurer said in his presentation speech that this bill, which is an omnibus bill, would amend a number of provisions that required amendment. The proposed amendments to the Rates and Land Tax Act are intended to ensure that the land tax regime applying to units in the ACT is applied in accordance with the policy intent. The government has been provided with legal advice that reflects that there might be a difference between the way in which current legislation is interpreted and the application of land tax to units in unit subdivisions. The opposition is concerned that taxpayers could be disadvantaged if there is a dichotomy between what is described as current practice and the strict application of relevant legislation.

The opposition will seek to implement legislation that imposes taxes that are clear, equitable and administratively efficient. The one aspect in this bill that is a bit worrying is the availability of information from a number of years ago. The Treasurer told us in his tabling speech that limited material was available from 1987. As 1987 is only 16 years ago-it is not a long period-I would have thought that our record-keeping processes for that period and our access to that information would have been appropriate. I acknowledge the change in the way in which the territory has been governed, given the implementation of self-government. That might have created some difficulties in relation to accessing information prior to the self-government era. All members are aware of the farce with which we are confronted every January when Commonwealth cabinet papers from 30 years ago are released for public scrutiny.

There appear to be problems relating to the archiving and availability of records for the administration of the ACT for the period until 1989. How does the Territory Records Act, which was implemented only last year, apply in this case? How does it apply to

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