Page 2467 - Week 06 - Thursday, 23 June 2011

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remissions. The remissions are the giveaway that it has an impact. Otherwise, why bother? Take all the revenue now. If it is that easy, if it does not have the impact as you say it will not, then just take all the revenue now. That would be the approach. But you know that is not true. A transition to a $50,000 a unit tax—that will make it okay! If we just transition to a $50,000 a unit tax, it will not have an impact! But of course it will.

When—in six months time, in 12 months time, in two years time—we look at how this is working, we as an Assembly will look back, I think, with significant regret that this was passed in the form that it is going to be passed tonight. We will look back with regret. And you can guarantee that we will be back here. We will be back here debating it again, because it will have to be fixed. It will have to be fixed. When you put in place such a poor piece of legislation, such a punitive piece of legislation, and impose that on homebuyers in the ACT—this is their response now to housing affordability.

This is a key part of the market. To pretend otherwise is to ignore the facts. The reality is that the unit market is critically important. It provides a very important part of our market. It is not just about greenfield. Greenfield is very important, but the unit market provides the place where many people rent their first home. Many people’s first rental is in the unit market. We already have tight rental vacancies. What the government and the Greens are doing tonight is saying, “We do not really have too much regard for what happens to that market. We just want to impose this large tax.”

If you do that, not only are there further implications in terms of other revenue lines but there are economic implications. There are implications for housing affordability and there are implications for attracting skilled workers to the territory in terms of providing accommodation to people here in the ACT. All of these things have implications. The government has not answered those key questions.

I go back to where we started the debate today. The Treasurer, every time she opens her mouth in this debate, is validating the concerns. When she makes the argument that what is wrong with the current system is that people who want to redevelop come in and pay more, she is validating the concerns that say that some people’s property values will go down as a result of this. When she argues for her 75 per cent remission, she is validating the concern that the tax is far too high and that the tax will have an impact. If it did not have an impact, why would you need the remission in the first place?

We look forward to the Treasurer validating more of the concerns, including just how much it will add to the cost of a unit and just how much it will increase rents in the ACT. As rents go up over the next couple of years, people will be able to look back to the Treasurer and the Greens, who are saying, “No tax is too high for us. We will impose the tax because we can. We will impose the tax without regard for what the implications might be.” We will impose the tax simply because this government—the Labor Party in the ACT and the Greens—have never seen a tax or a tax increase that they did not like.

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