Page 1500 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 10 April 2013
should state his preference and be clear about it. You are perfectly entitled to hold the view that you do not think developers should pay any tax on the windfall gains they get from a lease variation, and that you do not support that money being reinvested in the community. If that is your position, fine.
MADAM SPEAKER: If that is Mr Smyth’s position.
MR BARR: That is Mr Smyth’s position, Madam Speaker.
MADAM SPEAKER: And you will refer to Mr Smyth as “Mr Smyth”.
MR BARR: If that is Mr Smyth’s position, let him say so. But the shadow treasurer finds many ways to skirt around the heart of this issue, which is: do you or do you not support the principle of this charge? And that is an open question, clearly. He probably says one thing when he is lunching with the Property Council and says another thing in this place or publicly. It is all about reviews publicly, but I am sure—
Mr Smyth: What did you say when you were lunching with the Property Council?
MR BARR: Well, I stand up—
MADAM SPEAKER: Mr Barr, sit down. Can you stop the clock, please, Clerk? The imputation, by saying that Mr Smyth says one thing to one group and one thing to another, is that he is dishonest, and I would like you to withdraw.
MR BARR: An interesting assertion, Madam Speaker, but if that is your ruling, I will withdraw.
MADAM SPEAKER: Thank you.
MR BARR: To continue that point, there are many people who very firmly support the principle that if a developer gets a windfall gain from a decision of government to allow a lease variation then there should be a contribution back to the community. I think it is right and proper that that contribution goes back to improve the urban amenity of our city. That is why we introduced the urban improvement fund and I think it is very good public policy.
In the context of the sorts of taxes that governments can seek to implement, this is, as I have said on many occasions, one of the very best because it does not distort economic activity; it seeks to tax economic rent. Compared with other inefficient options—and we are the only government in the country moving away from inefficient taxation, and moving away from it faster than anyone else—those principles of efficient taxation and not seeking to distort economic activity are critical. I urge members to support my amendment. (Time expired.)
MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (6.16): I think it is fair to say that we are all at the point now where everyone’s view on the lease variation charge is very clear. I do not know how many times we have actually debated this since the scheme came into place in 2011 but there certainly have been a number of occasions which have filled a