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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 06 Hansard (Tuesday, 12 May 2015) . . Page.. 1643 ..

dramatically down from the original estimate, which I think for this year was meant to be something like $26 million. This is rapidly turning into Mr Barr’s mining tax—the tax that was going to fix all woes but in the end delivered nothing.

The budget for the half-year to December was $7.2 million and what was achieved was $2.7 million. Again, what we have is a tax that is not working. And it is not working because the government got greedy. They put too high a fee on the redevelopment of these sites and, as a consequence, there is not a crane in the sky at the moment and many of the cranes that were there until recently were in fact on deals that were signed before the changes that became known as the lease variation charge.

This government must have a policy that gets them the revenue that they need, but they should spend that revenue wisely and not on personal fantasies like light rail. They should also make sure that the economy continues to grow so that they can reap the dividend and we can all reap the dividend— (Time expired.)

MR BARR (Molonglo—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Urban Renewal and Minister for Tourism and Events) (4.12): The ACT government is committed to keeping fees and charges as low as possible while also driving down the overall cost of doing business in the territory, as well as delivering a high standard of services to Canberrans. Of course, fees and charges are an important component of that, but the government remains focused on the overall cost of living and the cost of doing business in the territory. That stretches across a range of issues, from water pricing to tax reform.

Despite the fact that the territory has a number of revenue raising limitations in comparison to other jurisdictions, our taxation per capita, as measured by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, is lower than the national average. The latest available data from the 2012-13 fiscal year shows that ACT taxation per capita was $3,272 compared to the national average of $3,377. Our taxation per capita is the third lowest of all states and territories, with only Queensland and South Australia imposing lower levels of tax.

It is important to acknowledge in this debate that the ACT has a number of revenue raising disadvantages. We do not have a mining industry. We do not have a number of industries that attract a certain level of revenue for other jurisdictions. It may have escaped the notice of the shadow treasurer that a significant proportion of our economic activity is generated by commonwealth government expenditure within the territory. Commonwealth employment, which drives much of the territory’s expenditure, is of course exempt from payroll tax. This puts the territory at a disadvantage compared to other Australian jurisdictions when the major employer in this city exempts themselves from the taxes that apply to other employers in this city and, indeed, elsewhere in Australia.

This has meant that tax reform is more important in the ACT than it is anywhere else in the country. That is why we have engaged in meaningful and practical tax reform to improve the commercial and personal tax environment in the territory. There are a lot of jurisdictions talking about it. There have been a lot of papers written. We have had academics; we have had Treasury officials. Every federal government in recent times

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