Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 15 February 2005) . . Page.. 429 ..
Sadly, however, when we look further into this report, the observations are made that the flow-on budgetary effects of the review are not yet known. It is reported that revenue to the ACT from these taxes is estimated at approximately $47 million in the financial year 2005-2006. However, the abolition of the largest of these taxes, stamp duty on non-residential conveyancing, of approximately $33 million, is likely to be deferred for a number of years. And it is disappointing that it has got such a long-term view in terms of tax reform and reductions not being a matter of priority. Indeed, property taxes are in particular need of urgent review and reform if we are to maintain investor interest in the Australian Capital Territory.
I do not believe that the government in the ACT has taken full advantage of the benefits flowing out of GST since its introduction. We hear possible future economic challenges being bemoaned but we see little hope for the people in this city, our taxpayers and our small business people in particular, that the windfall gains and revenue from GST will be applied to make the ACT a more tax competitive and business friendly environment. There has been the opportunity to move the ACT ahead as the best place in Australia to live and do business. The government has failed to take the initiative, especially during the years of buoyant economic activity, much of which has been due to the initiatives that have been taken on an Australia-wide basis. I find it curious that New South Wales was able to abolish their debits tax on 1 January 2002, yet we have waited until July 2005.
There are more taxes to eliminate, so why not give ourselves an advantage over other locations in Australia? This government’s record in terms of tax has been somewhat blemished by its attempts to implement or consider new taxes or even expand current tax measures. I cite, for example, issues such as rates, bushfire tax and the mooted parking space tax, a tax that has caused great concern to many operators in the property area and in the hotel industry in the ACT. In light of the threat, the people of Canberra must be relieved at least to see this bill, which provides some measure of relief.
DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (5.22): The ACT Greens are supporting this bill. It gives final effect to the abolition of the financial institutions duty and also ends the debits tax relating to all transactions after July 2005. The abolition of these two taxes is part of the intergovernmental agreement on the reform of commonwealth/state financial relations. We certainly do not have a problem with removing these two taxes, which were not particularly progressive or purposeful and have in effect been usurped by the socially regressive GST. I might also take this opportunity to make the point that we do not think the ACT government collects too much revenue, financial institutions duty and debits tax notwithstanding. So we do not agree with the Liberal Party.
The community sector, home to the most responsive and innovative deliverers of and advocates for social services, runs on funds that are so limited as to threaten its viability. That is the next funding challenge for the government. As a community, we can and should also see an increase in social housing stock. We should see a much greater commitment to energy and water design in all our buildings, a public transport system second to none, and we should develop both the ecological resources around the city and the cultural resources within it. All of these things require funding, at least some of which will need to come from government. Removing these small taxes makes sense. But other changes to revenue raising are also needed so that we can maintain viability in