Page 127 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 28 November 2012

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The eligibility criteria for the rates deferral scheme have been expanded. Again, from 1 July this year, non-pensioners—those above 65 years of age—whether they are working or not, have been able to defer their rates, subject to income and assets tests, allowing more Canberrans to access this scheme.

The duty deferral scheme, which has been available for households prior to the tax reform, has in fact been extended and allows eligible households to amortise their duty for a period of 10 years, which is an increase from the previous five-year period. This, of course, was a key recommendation from the taxation review. The government’s tax reform is the right thing to do. It spreads the burden more evenly and it does not focus the collection of our revenue on a narrow base. It ensures that the tax system is fairer for households and fairer for businesses.

Reform is difficult. It is very easy for the Leader of the Opposition to just say no. He has had a lot of practice at that and that is why he is still the Leader of the Opposition and will spend the best part of a decade in that role, provided his colleagues are going to continue to support him—

MADAM SPEAKER: Relevance, Mr Barr. Keep to the motion, Mr Barr.

MR BARR: And we are very happy to see that happen. We are very happy to see that happen. Very happy.

Mr Seselja: You will never be—

MR BARR: You can spend a decade sitting in that chair, Mr Seselja.

MADAM SPEAKER: Mr Barr, you will not address Mr Seselja. You will address the motion and you will be relevant to the motion.

MR BARR: Thank you, Madam Speaker. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ensure that we undertake reforms that are necessary for our community and for business. Every credible economist supports shifting tax from inefficient to efficient taxes. The Henry tax review and our Quinlan tax review supported this shift in taxation. The Business Council of Australia and all of the other major peak bodies support such a reform at state and territory level.

Locally, the Canberra Business Council, the chamber of commerce and the Property Council have all indicated their support for this approach. The Housing Industry Association just yesterday did the same thing. Many in the not-for-profit sector support this reform. In fact, many Liberal treasurers in other parts of the country have indicated their support for this approach.

The only people who oppose it are those opposite. Once again, they are saying no for the sake of saying no. Thankfully, the government was returned and tax reform will endure. We will provide the right settings to grow the territory economy and ensure that the burden of taxation is spread more widely. If we are serious about tackling cost of living pressures, we need to have a tax system that is fair. In simple terms, that

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