Page 2905 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 6 August 2008
for as long as possible at the same time as they enjoyed the largesse that is being reaped from the GST.
MR SPEAKER: How does that relate to the fire and emergency services levy?
MR SMYTH: The arguments against the fire and emergency services levy are extensive. At the same time, however, it is important that rash decisions that have longstanding consequences for the budget of the ACT are not made without having a complete understanding of the context and the consequences of policy decisions.
The reality of the situation that the Canberra community now faces is that this levy, this tax, has been introduced. It is now a part of the ACT government’s revenue mix. It is essential, therefore, that any decision to repeal this tax is made in the context of having a thorough understanding of the ACT’s current and prospective revenue situation. It would not be appropriate to remove such a revenue stream without being aware of the consequences of such a decision.
In the first instance, we need to have a detailed insight into not only the latest financial situation in the ACT budget but also the prospects for revenue collections. We will receive the answer to the first of these questions very soon with the tabling of the latest quarterly financial report. We will receive the answer to the second question when the pre-budget election analysis is presented.
At that point, the Liberal Party will be in a position to release its tax policy in the lead-up to the October election.
Mr Corbell: Where’s Steve Pratt? Bring him down.
MR SPEAKER: Order! Mr Corbell, come to order, please.
MR SMYTH: The opposition is disappointed that the Stanhope government introduced this taxing measure. It is neither appropriate nor responsible. However, for the opposition to support the repeal of this tax at this time we would need to put in context and deliver our full tax policy. We will do that on our own timetable, not in debate on a bill presented by somebody who shortly will not be with us in the Assembly, for his benefit.
This tax should be repealed as soon as it can be. Any decisions today will not repeal it, because the government is going to vote against it. But this repeal decision must be taken in a responsible manner, taking into account the budgetary circumstances of the ACT. We in the Liberal Party will make decisions about revenue measures in the proper context in the lead-up to the election and the context of the state of the territory we find after the election. I repeat: it would be irresponsible of me to go beyond that position at this time.
The Stanhope government has a hopeless record with respect to taxation policy in this territory. The fire and emergency services levy is the latest of a long line of poor decisions from the Stanhope government about taxation policies. Look, the Treasurer turns up. It is fantastic: the Treasurer has finally arrived. Fortunately, some of these very poor taxation proposals have not proceeded. Unfortunately, the sloppiness