Page 3151 - Week 10 - Thursday, 17 September 2015

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Thursday, 17 September 2015

MADAM SPEAKER (Mrs Dunne) took the chair at 10 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Rates Amendment Bill 2015

Mr Barr, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR BARR (Molonglo—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Urban Renewal and Minister for Tourism and Events) (10.01): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Today I introduce legislation amending the Rates Act 2004 establishing a rating methodology to calculate general rates for the Canberra Airport. The Rates Amendment Bill 2015 will increase certainty for the Canberra Airport, for the ACT government, and for the broader community.

The airport provides essential transport infrastructure and is a key facilitator for economic growth in the territory, as a regional gateway and as a generator of investment and employment in our city. Canberra Airport excels at tourism services and is crucial for the export of regional goods and services. The terminal and aviation facilities are world class. The government must ensure that there are no impediments to the continued development, upgrading and maintenance of these facilities.

When airports were privatised by the commonwealth through the issuing of long-term leases in the 1990s, despite the land being commonwealth land the lease included a section stating that the lessors of airports pay appropriate amounts of taxation to state and local governments. I understand that there was an expectation from the commonwealth that jurisdictions would enter into agreements with airports on how the airports would be taxed. This did not occur in the ACT, as arrangements for the Canberra Airport relied on ACT legislation to determine rates and other taxes on airport land.

It is a complex exercise to assess the unimproved value of airport land. General rates for land across the ACT are determined in accordance with unimproved land value. The unique combination of the Crown lease for the airport site, which was developed when the airport was privatised, and the airport’s essential infrastructure result in the need for this alternative methodology.

The other difficulty with such a unique piece of infrastructure like the Canberra Airport and its unique planning regime is the complexity of using the “highest and

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