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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 29 October 2015) . . Page.. 3895 ..

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo—Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Justice, Minister for Sport and Recreation and Minister assisting the Chief Minister on Transport Reform) (4.26): I am pleased to be able to speak about the impacts of rates on the Canberra community. Firstly, I would like to remind members of the importance of rates to the ACT economy. Being a jurisdiction that has very little primary industry, does not have much in the way of resources for forestry or mining and has little history in manufacturing, we are generally a city that needs to balance our budget by using our land wisely and creating wealth through our knowledge industries.

I would like to apologise for the small history lesson, but I think it is good to keep things in perspective. Our city was founded completely through the commonwealth government, as a capital city, primarily to run the federal government, and all of our service industries evolved from this starting point. Our city was built by the National Capital Development Commission and its other variously named predecessors, largely in the second half of the last century, and was generally thought to be fairly gold-plated, by national standards. In 1989 the federal government handed to the ACT self-government, without a large maintenance budget to keep us going at the same standard.

As a result we live in a beautifully planned city, with wide roads and median strips, nature strips with street trees, open spaces and nature reserves, and of course with two-thirds of the ACT being protected in national park and nature reserves. We have fully protected and clean water catchments, we are abundant in playgrounds, sportsgrounds, community paths and community amenities. But a lot of these amenities are ageing, and the cost pressures of their maintenance are quite large. We also have world-class health, education, policing, emergency and community services.

But these things do not come for free. I think that, generally, residents of the ACT are very aware of that and are generally happy to pay the rates we do, because we can see what we get for our money.

It is worth reflecting on the changes to the taxes and rates systems, as that is clearly a part of today’s discussion. Since July 2012 we have been following the advice of the Henry tax review, and have been transitioning to a new, more progressive taxation system, one that increases rates while decreasing stamp duties and insurance duties.

One of the interesting things to note—and the Chief Minister has touched on this in his remarks—is that people do not see the reduction in their insurance bills, as those bills are not usually itemised, so people cannot see that over the past four years the ACT government duty has reduced from 10 per cent to two per cent this year, and by July next year there will be no insurance duties at all. As the Chief Minister noted, this means that for an average house that pays around $2½ thousand a year in house, contents and car insurance bills, they are saving about $250 each year on their insurance bills.

The other reduction is on stamp duty—and I have heard many people say that this does not affect them. But this is a substantial impost on people who are purchasing a house and, given that people on average move house every seven years, it means that even if it does not benefit you directly, someone in your family will be benefiting

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