Page 1232 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 9 April 2008

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Then we had Mr Hargreaves’s outdoor cafe fees debacle. After having an embarrassing error in the calculation of fees applied, the Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, John Hargreaves, laughed off the error in the Assembly. Yet a few days later the minister announced that the error had been validated and that the new schedule would be withdrawn, refunds would be paid and a new corrected schedule implemented.

Then we had the corporate reconstruction tax. This policy involved changing an existing exemption to a concession based on 95 per cent of duty payable, raising an additional $1.1 million.

As you can see, Mr Deputy Speaker, the Canberra community can be entitled to ask how carefully the Stanhope government has developed its taxation policy. The answer, based on the evidence of seven years of failure, is quite simple—the Stanhope government has demonstrated that it does not have the capacity to research properly new taxing measures before they are introduced. Even when it does propose a new tax, it is typically an inefficient tax. In a budget of $3 billion it raises small quantums of revenue, but it imposes significant administrative burdens, particularly on business.

The Chief Minister asked yesterday what the Liberal Party’s business policy was. We all know what the Stanhope government’s business policy is—abandon business, cut business assistance, impose higher taxes on business and offer no relief at all for business in the ACT. How do we know the effects of this? We only have to see the collapse in business confidence as recorded in the recent report from Hudson as well as other reports from groups like Access Economics, the ANZ bank and Westpac.

To put the Stanhope government’s revenue raising in context, in 2001-02 the budget for the ACT government was $2.2 billion. Five years later in 2006-07, the government had raised its budget to $3.2 billion—a significant increase—an increase over five years of nearly 50 per cent. This increase represents an additional $200 million each year. Taxation revenue has gushed into the coffers of the ACT government over the past six years. Indeed, the billion-dollar boom that they have had has been so squandered that they now seek to put in place additional revenue measures that really are largely unnecessary given the windfalls that they have had. From their perspective, I suspect they are necessary simply because they have squandered a billion-dollar boom.

We will see new taxing measures, new taxes that are inefficient and a nuisance. This tax that we seek to repeal today is just another in a long list of failures of the ACT Stanhope Labor government to have an effective tax policy. They have failed because they have not diversified the economic base of the ACT. We will be supporting this bill.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (4.54): The ACT Greens opposed the introduction of this tax when it was debated in 2006. The Greens are of the view that revenue can be raised in a more orderly and progressive manner right across Australia. It seems clear to me that this tax is a tax on consumers, and it is a flat tax which disproportionately hurts people who are doing it tough, and that includes people on welfare benefits and

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