Page 2913 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 13 August 2013

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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) (5.48): I thank the shadow treasurer for his comments. As he indicated, the Commerce and Works Directorate was established in November 2012. So this year’s appropriation provides the directorate with its first full year of funding. The new directorate has three main business functions: Shared Services, the ACT Revenue Office and the ACT Insurance Authority.

The directorate also provides policy advice on government business enterprises. Some of the directorate’s priorities in the coming fiscal year include the implementation of taxation reforms in order to deliver the territory a fairer, simpler and more efficient tax system—something I am sure we all support, Madam Deputy Speaker.

Importantly, in this coming fiscal year the government will be further lowering conveyance duty and the duty on insurance premiums. The duty on insurance premiums dropped to six per cent. I think that makes it the lowest duty in the country, and in two years time it will be abolished altogether.

The government is boosting the first home owner grant in this budget to $12,500, up from $7,000. Importantly, in order to ensure that this move does not fuel house price inflation, the government is re-targeting it to new and substantially renovated properties from 1 September 2013. We want this additional boost to first homebuyers to be chasing new housing, not pushing up the price of existing housing. As well as providing that timely assistance to first homebuyers, the change also boosts the local construction centre and provides a real incentive to build new dwellings in the city. This sector is of course a key employer within the ACT.

In addition, the Revenue Office will be focusing on increasing tax compliance through education, through more targeted taxpayer communication and undertaking activities that uphold the integrity of the tax system. The integrity of our taxation system is very important—ensuring that people do not seek to avoid tax. It is critical not only to providing the revenue that the territory requires to continue to provide community services, but in fairness to taxpayers who do the right thing. What we see from time to time are those in politics who seek to encourage tax avoidance and who seek to devise schemes and ways in which people can avoid paying their fair share of tax. What that does is ensure that the burden falls even more on those who do the right thing.

In any society the vast majority of people will do the right thing and pay the tax that they should pay. But there will always be a small proportion who will seek to avoid tax, who seek to avoid making their contribution to society. I think the work that the Revenue Office does in this area to educate and to provide more targeted communication to taxpayers is important. It is why the government is supporting it and it is why the government will never support legislative means to avoid taxation such as those that have been proposed by the shadow treasurer.

The directorate will also be working in the coming 12 months to implement the active certification policy and safety as a weighted criterion within construction contracts. This policy started on 1 July this year. It is aimed at improving work health and safety

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