Page 1062 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 8 April 2008
terms of reference, to which I added. I am very pleased to table the report today. It is a very useful report that brings together issues relating to property values, land tax and rates. We are aware, from the constant buzz in the media about these issues, that the public has a deep interest in having a system that meets criteria for clarity, efficiency, equity, accountability and transparency. The land valuation system is the basis of that and it is the key to people feeling satisfied about property values in their suburbs.
After a great deal of investigation, the committee concluded that the ACT’s valuation system is largely sound. However, we have made some recommendations aimed at ensuring that this continues. We examined alternative systems of valuation but we are not recommending any change from the ACT’s current mass appraisal system using unimproved values.
One of the things that we discovered was that consumers and people in the community had a lot of difficulty with interpreting the information that was given to them on their rates notices and elsewhere. In the report there are some copies of the kinds of documentation currently available to people to explain to them their appeal rights and the way the system works. I think you will agree that some of that is somewhat obscure and that if you are a person whose literacy is at all challenged, you will have great problems with it.
We have made two recommendations aimed directly at improving the accuracy of valuations, including the upgrade, at the very least, or the replacement, ideally, of the current computer-assisted valuation system. A problem that we often find when we look into things is that the actual data collection is part of the problem. Land valuation is a complex area that is difficult for lay people to understand. That makes it important for government to provide clear information to increase public trust in the system. The committee has made two recommendations aimed at increasing residents’ ability to understand, use and benefit from the valuation system and the objections and appeals process.
One of the other issues that we looked at was the vexed issue of land tax. One of the terms of reference referred to land tax. There was quite a bit of discussion about its relationship to rents. We are aware of arguments in the media that land tax contributes to the rental problems in the ACT. There were varied opinions on that, which are expressed in this report. There is even a contest about whether land tax is passed on as higher rents, to what degree and how much owners are compensated through tax concessions and so on. We did not come to any decisions about how land tax as a tool could be manipulated to reduce the cost of rents. There was a feeling in the committee that there was potential for land tax to be used as a much more nuanced lever, but we did not feel we had the information to do that. We made a recommendation, which I hope that a future government or at least a future committee takes up, that the ACT government investigate a range of ways of using land tax as a lever to increase the supply of affordable housing.
Mr Speaker, you would be aware that it does not matter whether the rental property that you are offering is a very dilapidated fibro box in Narrabundah or whether it is a very upmarket two-storey dwelling with swimming pool in Griffith—each property attracts the same amount of land tax. That means that, for an affordable dwelling,