Page 4295 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 13 October 2009

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an administration point of view, it is a practical process which was, in fact, first championed in the ACT by Gary Humphries when he was the Attorney-General.

Legislation setting monetary values for various penalties merely set the maximum number of penalty units for offences rather than an actual dollar value. The idea of this was to ensure that penalties were always kept up to date. The value of the penalty unit has always been set out in a separate piece of legislation and as a consequence applies to all legislation carrying penalties expressed in penalty units. It has always been a simple and effective means to ensure consistency across all legislation.

This bill would seek to increase the value of penalty units by 10 per cent. As a result, the value of penalty units applying to individuals increases from $100 to $110 and for corporations the value increases from $500 to $550. The new rate will bring us into line with the commonwealth and New South Wales rates and is comparable with those in a number of other jurisdictions.

I note that the last time the penalty unit’s value was reviewed was in 2001. In that context the increase of 10 per cent might not be considered significant. Perhaps, however, as happens in other jurisdictions, if the Stanhope government were more efficient in its conduct of its business it might review its penalty unit values more regularly. At least then we would avoid hefty increases in one go. As mentioned earlier, the increases in the value of penalty units will raise additional annual revenue of $3,136,000 for the Stanhope government.

In recognising this, one must ask about the timing of the increase. Is it merely to recognise the increase in the cost of administering penalties over the past eight years, or is it because the Stanhope government is desperate to hit every possible corner it can to bolster its finances after eight years of financial mismanagement? After eight years of boom, with unprecedented revenues, funding wasteful expenditure on wrong priorities, ideologies and whims, is it now the case that the cookie jar is empty?

Whatever spin you put on it, there is no denying the fact that the Stanhope government has an unenviable record for financial incompetence. It failed to save in the good years for economic rainy days—the economic rainy days we are now experiencing. Rather, it spent recklessly on projects and programs that the people of Canberra neither needed nor wanted. It failed to recognise and direct money to areas of need; rather, mismanaging and overspending on major capital works such as the GDE, the prison and now the Cotter Dam enlargement. It has failed the people of Canberra and now everyone is paying through higher taxes, reduced services and, in this case, higher penalties for offences.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (10.20): I rise today to support this legislation on behalf of the Greens. This increase was flagged as part of the 2009-10 budget process and today’s legislation brings into effect the increase in the value of the penalty unit by $10 to $110. This will increase the revenue collected by government by an estimated $3.1 million per year.

The Greens accept the rationale behind the increase in that it reflects both inflation and the increases in the cost of government administration. It has been eight years

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