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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 5001 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

records relating to the administration of the ACT both before and after self-government? The explanatory memorandum to this bill notes that the legislation applies to records created by the Commonwealth of Australia prior to ACT self-government. The Treasurer might wish to comment on that matter when he replies to debate on this bill. I noted the Treasurer's comment about the retrospective aspect inherent in this bill. As a principle, we do not favour legislation that imposes taxes retrospectively. On this occasion, however, it is evident that the provisions in this bill seek to clarify the imposition of land tax since the introduction of this tax prior to self-government.

The government said that this bill would not impose any additional tax burden on taxpayers-a fundamental proviso in legislation such as this. The proposed amendments in the Taxation Administration Act seek to ensure that the information provided by taxpayers under this act is protected. Again opposition members have no objection to that objective. It is of paramount importance that information provided by taxpayers is properly protected. We are required to take this action some years after the repeal of a particular act which is perhaps a reflection of the increasing complexity of the legislative regimes that govern our lives.

If the Office of the Government Solicitor only recently identified the problem, how much more difficult would it be for ordinary people who have no experience in these areas to understand legislation to which they are being subjected? There is an added dimension in this instance. In this interregnum, information that was provided by taxpayers might not have been protected and presumably could have been sought legitimately by any person. As I said earlier, the Liberal Party supports the bill.

Debate interrupted in accordance with standing order 74 and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for a later hour.

Sitting suspended from 12.29 to 2.30 pm.

Questions without notice

Oz Help mental health program

MR SMYTH: My question is to the Minister for Health, Mr Corbell. George Wason has accused you of having an agenda of cutting funding to the Oz Help mental health program targeting the construction industry. Indeed, Oz Help has informed me that you intend to cut their budget by $20,000. Mr Wason claimed that you were unable to meet with him until February, despite the fact that the budget is being put together now. In the Canberra Times of 8 December he is quoted as saying:

The Budget is being put together now. This is totally unacceptable. It's absolutely ridiculous. ...For some reason Simon doesn't give it the importance or urgency it quite frankly deserves.

He adds that there is "real time"and there is "Simon's time". Minister, why are you cutting funding to a successful community mental health program?

MR CORBELL: We are not cutting funding to a successful community program.

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