Page 1726 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 3 May 2005

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To maintain the overall level of assistance provided to pensioners, the maximum rates rebate provided for pensioners will increase from $305 to $365. The rate free threshold for all properties will be increased to $22,000. It is estimated that the additional increase in rates above the CPI will generate an additional $13.9 million in rates revenue in 2005-06.

Adjustments to revenue collected through general rates in the ACT have been pegged to CPI for the last decade. In the period from 1999-2000 to 2003-04, which is the latest available data for all jurisdictions, the ACT amount increased by 15½ per cent compared with a national average of around 27 per cent.

In last year’s budget, the government made changes to land tax marginal rates and bracket thresholds and introduced a new bracket at the lower end, at an annual cost of $5.3 million.

In this budget, we have further increased those threshold values. We have decreased the tax rates within those brackets so that the total amount of revenue from land tax for 2005-06 for existing properties will only increase by the CPI, despite increased property values.

The budget provides for an increase in gaming machine tax rates, set down for 2007-08. In spite of the increase, taxation rates will remain at the lowest level applied in Australia, even after taking account of the mandatory community contributions. The increase in the rates has been delayed to allow clubs to manage through the recent limitation on note acceptors and the approaching total ban on smoking.

In line with the intergovernmental agreement on tax reform, debits tax will no longer apply after 30 June 2005. The abolition of this tax, financial institutions duty and the duty on marketable securities, along with an undertaking to review the need for a raft of other taxes, means that the ACT has fully met its obligations under that agreement.

Budget reform

Mr Speaker, the government remains committed to continuous improvement in relation to budget transparency and accountability. This budget includes a change to the performance measurement framework. This is the first step towards the implementation of a triple bottom line accountability framework. This reform was highlighted in last budget’s supplementary budget paper and further developed in a paper released to Assembly members in February this year. It has been assumed that the lack of feedback is an indication that the changes have been judged as acceptable.

Readers of budget paper 4 will notice that the performance measures are now presented at two levels—strategic indicators and accountability indicators. Strategic indicators are aimed at measuring performance against longer term and strategic outcomes. Accountability indicators will ensure that accountability for inputs, outputs and outcomes is maintained. Accountability indicators will still be subject to review by the Auditor-General. Amendments to the Financial Management Act are currently being developed to support revised audit arrangements. The output descriptions have, in most cases, been expanded to provide users with more information.

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