Page 1835 - Week 06 - Thursday, 9 May 2013
tax system are fair and recognise the range of different circumstances of people in Canberra, particularly older people, we believe is also a good thing.
The tax reforms will deliver real benefits to the community, and this bill puts a framework in place to ensure that the new scheme fairly distributes the tax burden across the community. The real policy debate to be had is about the content of the instruments that will be made under the changes in the bill. The level that the various concessions apply is a difficult question, and one that the Greens will be considering very closely.
Having made those brief comments, on behalf of the Greens I will be supporting the bill today.
MR BARR (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Sport and Recreation, Minister for Tourism and Events and Minister for Community Services) (12.02), in reply: I thank Mr Rattenbury for his support of the bill, and thank Mr Smyth for a predictable contribution in relation to this important reform agenda.
The Revenue Legislation (Tax Reform) Amendment Bill formalises arrangements that were administratively implemented as part of the government’s taxation reform plan which was announced in last year’s budget.
At this point I must observe that, in the context of something being announced “under the cover of the budget”, it is one of the more extraordinary lines I have heard. It is probably the most scrutinised piece of government legislation in this place. I particularly enjoyed the context that was attempted to be spun there by the shadow treasurer—that somehow by putting something in the budget it is doing it under cover. That is extraordinary.
The tax plan that I outlined is the first five years of what will be a long-term process to make the territory’s tax system fairer, simpler and more efficient. Critically, in the context of national debates and various reports and examinations of the revenue base for all Australian governments, it is about sustainability of public finance in the territory. It also supports long-term economic growth and ensures that the budget is less reliant on inefficient and highly volatile taxes and allows the government to sustain a high level of services to the community.
The taxation reform contained a number of key measures, including abolishing duty on general and life insurance premiums. So let us be clear here, Madam Speaker. This means that the ACT will be the only jurisdiction in Australia to abolish all taxation on insurance. That is a significant thing, and it will save households and businesses from hundreds to thousands of dollars a year in taxes on insurance.
The abolition of commercial land tax, which came into effect on 1 July 2012, is another important simplification measure for our tax system. It significantly reduces red tape and ensures a simpler system, both from an administrative perspective for the government and from a business perspective in receiving a single bill in relation to rates.
The phasing out of conveyance duty over a 20-year period is one of the most important reforms that any government can implement. Again, in the context of the