Page 1603 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 31 March 2009

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When we passed that piece of legislation last year in the Assembly in relation to planning reform, we said it counts for nothing unless you make the cultural changes within ACTPLA. They have not happened. In fact, the minister is now acknowledging that they have not happened, so much so that he has to either bypass them or indeed he has to pick up more of the ideas that we put forward such as shifting the resources to where the development applications are.

These are some simple but very important changes that can be made to stimulate the ACT economy, therefore improving the prospects for revenue going forward and giving the opportunities there.

The other side of the equation is to make savings where there is government waste. And we see example after example. We get criticised for going through the litany, but it is quite a litany in terms of the millions of dollars that this government has spent for so little gain. I have listed tens of millions there. Of course, we have heard things before such as the busway that they have wasted $5 million on. We saw the money they were spending at Fairbairn for an empty building—$5 million for filing. The list does go on.

They have not made the savings, which is why they need to hold onto the revenue. They refuse to see that tax cuts can be a good thing and, if you make the savings and if you make tax cuts the target, you can have the money to spend in the critical areas. That is something this government has failed to do. They have had $1.6 billion in windfall gains and we, the taxpayers, have very little to show for it. It seems that under this Treasurer, this record will continue as they continue with this tax-and-spend philosophy. (Time expired.)

MS BURCH (Brindabella) (4.04): Revenue raising is important for governments, to ensure that they are able to deliver services to the community. That is the purpose of revenue raising and it should not be forgotten in any discussion on revenues. The government’s record on improving efficiencies and administration is unquestionable and the budget incorporates more than $1 million in efficiencies year after year. But the opposition has focused on taxation and, indeed, has not really yet shared with us what it can do.

Turning to taxation, ACT government taxes account for only 31 per cent of the total revenue required to deliver services to the community that the community expects and deserves. Taxation, nevertheless, is the main, though myopic, focus of the opposition when it comes to resource-allocation decisions in the annual budget process.

It is important to understand where the ACT sits with other jurisdictions and why, so I will go to some point of comparisons. “Taxation is too high” is, of course, the most common comment from those opposite, and it usually comes out as a conclusion. But there is an obvious question to us, and that is: compared to what?

According to the latest assessment from the Commonwealth Grants Commission, published in the 2009 updated relative fiscal capacities of states, the level of government services provided in the ACT is assessed at 121 per cent. This is the

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