Page 817 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 2 April 2008

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I note that the Treasurer has given some glimmer of hope to ACT residents that tax reform may finally be on the government’s radar. After the release of the December quarter financial report, the Chief Minister told the Canberra Times that he may wind back some of the tax increases imposed by his government and that there was capacity to do so within the budget. He was quoted as saying that it is an option that we can realistically explore.

When the Treasurer has finished exploring, I would invite him to support this bill and take his first steps towards restoring sanity in the ACT tax system and relieving some of the massive burden that has been imposed by this government. Whilst this bill would provide some much needed relief to ACT families, it is important to note that this bill would not relieve ACT residents of the tax increases imposed on them in the 2006-07 budget. Nor, of course, would it make up for the massive 58.5 per cent increase in taxation that has occurred since the Stanhope government came to power. Instead, it would repeal only a small part of the tax increases introduced in the 2006-07 budget.

In light of the government’s failure to address this out-of-control tax system and the government’s failure to take up this matter, it has again fallen to me to put a bill to the Assembly on this matter. I can only hope that the territory government and the Liberal opposition will show their support and vote to allow the people of the ACT some much needed tax relief.

This latest measure that I have brought in is one that will be welcomed by all households in this territory; it will be welcomed by the property sector, who have also expressed their dismay at this fire and emergency services levy and the impost it has represented on their members. Of course, it will be of benefit to the tenants who ultimately are wearing these charges as a result of their tenancy arrangements and their requirement to meet all the additional costs that are going to be passed on to property owners.

We have a situation in the ACT where we have never been in a better financial position to share the wealth of our community. The people of Canberra, whilst they have expectations of a high level in terms of the provision of services, also understand that there is a demand and need to conduct government with efficiency and with prudent financial management.

Earlier this morning I was talking about another area which has slipped under the radar with substantial losses in one of our leading tertiary institutions here in Canberra. We have seen earlier the waste that occurred with Rhodium. What the people of Canberra are looking for, in my view, is efficient, well-managed government where modest and reasonable levels of taxation can be maintained. It is not the job of government to accumulate wealth. The government is there to provide services and to raise taxes at a level appropriate to meet the demands from the community. The bill I am presenting here today presents an opportunity for the government to start winding back some of those charges and start sharing some of this massive surplus that has been created with the people who have paid for it.

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