Page 2990 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 14 August 2013
There are many other initiatives that are around in the ACT government and that are particularly targeted at seniors. As I say, I fear, in raising some of them, there will be a derisory response that says, “They are not the essential points that we are trying to make.”
I listened very carefully to Mr Doszpot’s speech today. I think that he has raised some important points. They are ones that I am certainly thinking about and working with my agency to try to address issues. Some of these are federal issues. And I think that it is incumbent upon all of us in this place to raise them.
As I said at the start, unfortunately those important issues are being woven with a partisan thread, and that does make this motion one that I will not be able to support 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) (12.24): I thank Mr Doszpot for raising the motion and Mr Rattenbury for his contribution. I do not think it is fair to make some of the statements that Mr Doszpot has today. So the government will not be supporting the motion as it currently stands. There are obvious inaccuracies within the motion that Mr Rattenbury has highlighted.
I think I will start on a point of agreement, though, rather than going to points of disagreement. First off, I think it is fair to note that the ACT has one of the fastest growing populations of people aged 60 years and over. That does tend to belie, though, the suggestion from Mr Doszpot at the conclusion of his speech that no-one wants to retire here. The facts would tend to indicate the contrary. In fact, Canberra is increasingly home to generations of families who choose to stay here for our city’s unique and unparalleled quality of life and particularly to access our world-class health system. So I do not think the claims that have been put forward by Mr Doszpot are correct.
But let me go to the crux of Mr Doszpot’s argument around taxation reform, and let me begin with stamp duty. As part of the government’s tax reform, stamp duty is to be phased out over a period of around 20 years. Let us be clear—and Mr Doszpot alluded to this in his comments—one of the most significant cost pressures on older Canberrans is the cost of stamp duty when they make a decision to downsize their housing. And Mr Doszpot has confirmed that. What tax reform means for older Canberrans is significantly reduced stamp duty fees when they choose to downsize.
Mr Doszpot also referred in his comments to the costs of running a motor vehicle and particularly the costs of insuring a motor vehicle. Tax reform means that the cost of insurance taxes goes down. Taxes on insurance are abolished, a big cost saving for those who are running a motor vehicle.
Mr Doszpot calls for transport improvement. The government agree, and we have got a significant program of transport improvement. The only party in this place who do not appear to support transport improvement is the Canberra Liberals. We have made, through this budget, a series of improvements to the government’s concessions program. Nearly 17,000 households access the general rates rebate of up to 50 per cent of general rates.