Page 476 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 5 March 2008

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unfortunately, a ravenous appetite for spending other people’s money. We have even heard a speech by a minister in this government suggesting that the family home should be subject to capital gains tax—a proposal which would be ruinous for Canberra families if it ever came to fruition. It runs counter to all of the economic advice I have ever seen. It was an ill-conceived initiative floated in Australia some years ago and very quickly abandoned as a concept.

The provision of government services does not require the kinds of continual increases in taxation that we have seen from the present government. It is not a matter of forgoing tax reform in order to fund necessary services. On the contrary, the provision of additional services has become something of an afterthought, with a new appropriation bill being introduced into the Assembly only a short time after the most recent budget in order to allow the government to spend some of its excess revenue. I know that my colleague Dr Foskey has argued on occasions against tax increases in order to spend more on services. It does not give regard to the fact that you can achieve improvement in services with improvements in efficiency, and you do not have to bleed the community dry by constantly hitting the family budget with these sorts of tax charges.

I have no doubt that this government is gearing up to a pre-election promise-a-thon in which it will do all it can to secure seats in this Assembly by throwing around money from the war chest it has built up through its regime of excessive taxation. By plundering the people of the ACT of their hard-earned money, the government already has a projected surplus of $200 million to throw around. Of course, one suspects that the actual surplus may be even higher, with the Department of Treasury continuing its unofficial policy of underestimation of tax revenues—a characteristic which I understand even occurred under the previous government, as Treasury always seeks to paint a grim and bleak picture to discourage ministers from retreating from the idea of high levels of tax.

The government has already indicated that the current financial position of the territory gives capacity for tax reform. This is a perfect opportunity for it to allow some much-needed relief. I hope that the government will consider supporting this bill and allow some relief from the tax burden it has imposed on the people of Canberra in recent years. More than this, I hope that the government will reconsider the direction it is taking in respect of the size of government in the ACT. I hope that it will reconsider those other tax increases that it has imposed on the people of Canberra and make every possible effort to restrain its spending and provide further tax relief.

Time and time again, residents raise with me the stress they are experiencing because the value of their homes has increased so dramatically as a result of the growth in property prices in the territory, but they do not have income increases to match. Often, they are on a commonwealth or territory public service pension, or some other form of fixed income. Whilst they may live in an area which has seen significant capital growth, they do not have the additional capacity to fund rate increases based on those property increases.

The argument is that they can seek to have those debts attached to the property and it will be a problem for the heirs to their estate. But those of us who have dealt regularly

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