Page 2909 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 6 August 2008

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dwelling. Charging commercial properties based on the unimproved value of land is a reasonable proxy for risk associated with the nature of activity and the weight of response and capability required to respond to any incident.

The government has invested considerable effort in returning the ACT public finances to a sound footing. As a result of these efforts, the government is now in a position to invest in the ACT’s future and to increase the productive capacity of the economy. Unfortunately—and we see it again today—the opposition seems committed to turning back the clock and putting the public finances at risk, based on mistaken perceptions about taxation and service levels. Today, of course, they have had the classic two bob each way. They have foreshadowed—

Mr Smyth: You should have modified your speech before you came in, Jon.

MR STANHOPE: No, the Liberal Party have actually done the classic thing here, by saying: “We won’t support it now because there’s an election in a few weeks time, but after the election, if we happen to win, we might actually agree to abolish it. But we won’t abolish it just now, because if we do, we know that the deficit we’ve already promised to create of around $200 million a year will grow by another $23 million.”

Mr Mulcahy: Sounds like one of those L-A-W promises, doesn’t it?

MR STANHOPE: It does. That is exactly right. This is a Liberal Party L-A-W promise.

Dr Foskey: Hang on, this is Mr Mulcahy’s bill, not the Liberal Party’s.

MR STANHOPE: But it is the position of the Liberal Party that is interesting. Mr Mulcahy has been philosophically true; he has adopted the position that the Liberal Party actually had adopted when he was its shadow Treasurer, which now, since his departure, has been abandoned, just as it has abandoned every other principle.

But it is a classic position by the Liberal Party now: “Just now, we’d like to be able to spend the $23 million that the fire levy raises, in the context of our election promises, but once the election’s over, if we win, of course, then we would be prepared to get rid of this $23 million.” What a load of bollocks! It is another promise that they have absolutely no intention of keeping. We saw one yesterday. The only promise that we know the Liberal Party will keep after the upcoming election, if they do win, is the promise not to build a pool in Gungahlin. That is the only promise that the Liberal Party will make in this campaign that we know they will have the capacity to keep. They have promised not to build a pool in Gungahlin, and that is the one promise we know they will keep. This is their promise: “Oh look, we won’t oppose the fire and emergency services levy now but we’ll consider abolishing it if we do accidentally fall into government after the election.”

In the context of the debate around the proposed abolition of this levy, the claim is consistently made in this place, most particularly by the Liberal Party, that the ACT is already a high taxing jurisdiction. Of course, if the Liberal Party truly felt that, they would have supported this bill, so they obviously no longer feel that. They obviously no longer feel that, so we do not expect ever again to hear from the Liberal Party a

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