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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 29 October 2015) . . Page.. 3896 ..

from not having to pay $10,000, $12,000, $15,000 or $20,000 in stamp duty in that period. You could do some back-of-the-envelope maths and say that if you move every seven years and your stamp duty is $15,000, there is more than $2,000 a year in savings just there. That is a very rough, back-of-the-envelope way to do things, but it puts in perspective the scale of the savings.

This is a progressive move because it also helps people who want to downsize or, for that matter, upsize as they go through the various stages of their lives and it helps to make sure that people are living in the type and size of house that suits them and their family at the time. Having a significant impost like stamp duty does discourage people from moving, because it is a dead cost; it is lost money. Removing that definitely improves the options for people moving around.

We must of course balance these reductions in revenue from these duties. The government is therefore increasing rates accordingly. It is important to underline the fact that these taxation changes are revenue neutral to the government. Despite people noticing that their rates are going up, due to the other decreases the government is not actually getting any additional funds to help run our magnificent city.

It must also be noted that there are rates concessions for pensioners, which have been boosted to help eligible people adapt to the rates increases. It is also worth drawing to members’ attention, because it is often forgotten in the way that this topic can be debated, that pensioners can also defer their rates so that any rates owing to the government are paid only when the estate is disbursed.

Queanbeyan City Council, as members no doubt will have heard in the media in recent days, is increasing their rates quite substantially without decreasing any other charges on residents. I think that again puts the ACT government’s approach in a clear position.

MR SMYTH: To do something with it, to rebuild the infrastructure.

MR RATTENBURY: Mr Smyth interjects and says, “To rebuild infrastructure.” What does he think the ACT government is doing? Every day of the week we are out there replacing footpaths, we are fixing roads and we are keeping our 700,000 urban trees in good shape. The ACT government is replacing ageing infrastructure every single day.

Mr Smyth interjecting

MR ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Dr Bourke): Mr Smyth, you have been repeatedly interjecting this afternoon. In the MPI discussion I am sure you will have your turn to speak. If you could hold off until then I am sure we would all appreciate it.

MR RATTENBURY: Looking at other New South Wales councils, it is interesting to see what some of them have done over the past few years, as they too have grappled with the additional costs of running a municipality. Quite a few councils have decided to take the question to their residents and essentially ask them whether they would like to have reduced services with the same level of rates or whether they would rather have their rates increased to cover a high level of services.

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