Page 2985 - Week 07 - Thursday, 30 June 2011

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Questions without notice


MR SESELJA: My question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, tomorrow is 1 July. On that day, a host of tax increases will occur. For a family living in Chisholm, tomorrow is the day they could face 7.5 per cent more in rates, 6.4 per cent more in electricity and 14.7 per cent more for water, amongst other things. Chief Minister, what studies have you included in the budget to take into consideration the impact your budget will have on the family budget for those living in our suburbs?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank the Leader of the Opposition for the question. Indeed, as I discussed in the Assembly this morning, at the heart of all budget decisions are discussions on how the decisions may impact on all Canberrans, whether they be individual householders, whether they be families, whether they be businesses operating in the territory. It is part of the budget initiatives brief that comes before cabinet. It is also part of the in-depth discussion that cabinet have over seven months when they are putting our budget together.

Indeed, as I went to this point this morning, it is interesting that after seven years of complaining about rates going up, the Leader of the Opposition has not made one attempt to come in and change the way rates are decided through the rating scheme. We did have an extensive debate about this during our first term in government. And they are linked. How we levy rates is linked to the value of land. So as land increases in value, you will see increases in rates.

The decision of government this year has been not to include any new taxes in the budget. There are some increases with indexation across our fees and charges, but we think that is appropriate and it is standard practice for budgets. Indeed, I cannot think of one budget, Labor or Liberal, where increases in fees and charges—

Mr Hanson: Certainly not Labor.

MS GALLAGHER: Anywhere around the country, Mr Hanson, including the latest Liberal budgets being brought down in Victoria and WA. This is standard budgeting practice. As the cost of providing services increases, governments must have a reasonable indexation measure in order to increase their own revenue.

But with respect to the other challenge for government, this is something that we go to in this budget. There is $21 million worth of assistance for lower income families and individual Canberrans who are doing it tough. This is targeted to the most vulnerable in our community. I think it is a responsibility of government, when putting budgets together, to make sure that the needs of those who need extra support are taken into consideration. That is in recurrent expenditure, so 25,000 households will receive $151 extra in the next financial year. If the Liberals support the budget early in the morning, $151 extra will go to supporting them with their cost of living pressures, particularly around utilities. Indeed, we are also spending $17 million worth of capital funding to increase the amount of public housing we can get to for energy efficiency measures, and to provide some more options in social housing.

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