Page 2411 - Week 08 - Thursday, 6 August 2015
If I could turn to the recommendations, there were a number of matters arising during the estimates process that I would like to draw your attention to and speak to a few of the 148 recommendations made by the committee. Recommendation 38 is on tax reform. During the hearing the Chief Minister and Treasurer, Mr Barr, was quizzed on the government’s priorities and strategy regarding its significant tax reform agenda. He explained that his objectives are to have the lowest stamp duty in the country and assist low and middle income households into the housing market. In that context much of the work so far has been at the more affordable end of the housing market.
The Treasurer also explained that due to the long-term nature of the reform it can be difficult to give a definitive timetable for the abolition of stamp duty given that future governments will be required to complete the process. However, he also acknowledged that Canberrans will want to know where the government intends to go with tax reform over the next five years and in this context the committee recommends that the ACT government report on the first five-year phase of tax reform and outline its plan for the next five-year phase, in particular its commitment to the principle of revenue neutrality and the long-term goal of abolishing stamp duty over two decades. I am confident that this mechanism will allow prospective buyers and sellers more certainty in coming years.
Recommendation 57 is on Access Canberra. The Chief Minister was asked to outline the purpose and composition of this new organisation, Access Canberra. Access Canberra is an initiative bringing together ACT regulatory services and the former Canberra Connect, allowing Canberrans a single point of engagement with the ACT government.
The committee welcomed the establishment of Access Canberra and acknowledged that such a significant organisational and service delivery reform will present significant opportunities and some risks. In light of this the committee recommended that the government closely monitor the first 12 months of operation and report to the Assembly. This will allow the government to finetune the workings of the operation of the organisation and provide Canberrans with the best service delivery possible. So far I have had many positive reports of Access Canberra’s operations bringing together our hardworking public servants across a range of different functions with a willingness to find a way through problems, to apply common sense, and to help groups, individuals and businesses really get things done. I particularly commend this new initiative.
Recommendation 42 is on Winyu House. In keeping with the theme of service delivery for Canberrans, the committee made inquiries about the recent move of ACT Shared Services to Winyu House in Gungahlin. The executive director explained that the move was well organised with minimal loss of productivity, with staff reporting they were very happy with the new work space. I was pleased to join the Chief Minister at the opening of Winyu House and can say that it appears to be an incredible environment to visit and work in. I particularly also enjoyed my visit to the new onsite childcare centre run by the YWCA. And I also know firsthand from speaking with small business operators in the Gungahlin business district that they have welcomed