Page 555 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 22 February 2012

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Wednesday, 22 February 2012

MR SPEAKER (Mr Rattenbury) took the chair at 10 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Financial Management (Cost of Living) Amendment Bill 2012

Mr Smyth, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (10.01): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

The ACT since 2001 has seen growth in total taxation by 68 per cent. It has seen total taxation per capita grow by 93 per cent. We have seen property rates and charges grow by 75 per cent and up to 157 per cent in some areas. We have seen rents increase by approximately 68 per cent. Water prices have increased by 200 per cent, electricity prices have increased by 75 per cent and parking fees for all-day places in Civic have increased by 57 per cent. People in Canberra are suffering under cost of living rises under the Gallagher-Barr Labor government.

The Canberra Liberals have had a longstanding concern about the way in which these cost of living charge increases affect Canberra families and affect their lifestyle. And we see it every year in the annual budget where fees and charges go up.

The problem for any ordinary person looking at the budget is that the way in which the ACT budget is currently presented does not provide any insight into the consequences of the many decisions it contains for Canberra families. At a time when the budget has blown out from a projected deficit of $36 million to more than $180 million, it is Canberra families in the main that will pay for that blow-out, and that, of course, affects their cost of living.

So it is a time of increasing concern about cost of living pressures for the community, and the Canberra Liberals believe that it is important to provide the community with an analysis of how each budget will affect their cost of living. Therefore we propose this straightforward amendment to the Financial Management Act that will ensure that in the act there is a statement concerning the cost of living impacts from the budget.

First, let me make some comments about the amendment. The objective is to provide an indication to ACT residents about how the budget will affect their cost of living in the year ahead. That is not an unreasonable thing for a budget statement to do. Clearly, it will not be specific for each resident but it will attempt to provide a per capita analysis of the cost of living—to the extent that this is feasible.

It would deal with increases in rates and similar taxes which have a direct effect on the cost of living for everyone, and with those taxes where there is an indirect effect—

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