Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 03 Hansard (Thursday, 3 April 2008) . . Page.. 951 ..
MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Mr Speaker. The answer that I gave to the question by Ms MacDonald on Tuesday is correct. It is an answer that was derived from figures published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, indeed supported by the Commonwealth Grants Commission. The Commonwealth Grants Commission and the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the two leading commentators or collectors of statistics and information in relation to almost every aspect, I would imagine, of governance in Australia, reveal in their latest reports on taxation effort and expenditure effort that the ACT government in terms of revenue effort or taxation efforts is on an indice of 105 per cent. It is just above the national average but it is consistent with our neighbour, New South Wales, which I believe, from memory, was on 104.5 per cent.
In terms of taxation effort across the board taking into account state-type and local government-type taxes and charges the ACT government taxes and charges at almost the identical rate as is levied in New South Wales. In the context of the ongoing debates, the argy-bargy and the constant claims and counterclaims around taxation or revenue, the effort here in the ACT is interesting. Those figures reveal, as I indicated to Ms MacDonald, that whilst we do tax just above average, consistent with New South Wales and, I think, four other states—there are four of us within a one or two per cent band in terms of revenue effort—there has been in the reports of the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Commonwealth Grants Commission a reduction of 0.7 per cent in the revenue effort of the ACT over the period that I disclosed.
It is a fact, and I disclosed it. It is taken straight from the reports that I mentioned or referred to. Why would I not refer to the fact that we tax at essentially the Australian average? We are not a high taxing regime. The fact that our taxation effort has reduced I think is something that any government would wish to acknowledge. I simply stated for the record the facts of the matter. Of course, it is an uncomfortable position for someone such as Mr Mulcahy, previously the Liberal Party’s rationalist controller and spokesperson for the big end of town in relation to taxation charges, but now, of course, eking out his own little niche within the community as the only remaining rationalist of particular degree or breadth or depth or perhaps the only person from his particular persuasion or political philosophy that has any grasp of economics—
Mr Barr: It all sits on this side of the chamber, then.
MR STANHOPE: That is right. I am prepared to concede the point which Mr Mulcahy seeks to illustrate through questions such as this that, in fact, the only understanding of economic issues or budgetary matters such as this does reside on this side of the chamber. We have previously conceded that it has been a matter of some passing interest or notice to the Labor Party, indeed, I think, to the wider Canberra community, that is, the irony of the Liberal Party, the opposition in this place, expelling their most competent member and deposing their most popular member to leave us with the mob we face today.
We saw that revealed by Mr Mulcahy yesterday as he revealed, piece by piece, the secrets of his previous party room that the Liberal Party’s polling—