Page 3917 - Week 12 - Thursday, 29 October 2015

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Rates Amendment Bill 2015

Debate resumed from 17 September 2015, on motion by Mr Barr:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (5.41): The Rates Amendment Bill presented to the Assembly for debate today is about a specific issue, and that is how we apply rates to the Canberra Airport. Indeed with most airports across the country it tends to be an interesting issue.

The government and the airport have come to an agreement whereby they have determined the base value, the average unimproved value, of all airport land as at 1 January 2014. That will be applied as the base and to that each year indexation will be added in a combination of two factors. The first factor is to be called the development index or the change in the total lettable area of the airport land measured in square metres. The second factor is then the growth index. This is the average increase in the AUVs of all commercial land in the territory in the previous year. This is captured in a formula which then determines by how much the rates should either go up or go down.

The process has been in dispute for some years. I would commend both parties on coming to an arrangement. We asked some questions, and I thank the minister for the briefing that was arranged. For instance, the Kingsford Smith airport in Sydney has on its boundary five different councils and the airport has separate agreements with each of the councils on how much in rates should be levied for that portion of the airport land that is in the jurisdiction of that council. I can only imagine that that must be very tedious. With that, we will be supporting the bill today.

MR BARR (Molonglo—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Urban Renewal and Minister for Tourism and Events) (5.43), in reply: I thank the shadow treasurer for his support of the legislation. We recognise Canberra Airport is in a unique position when compared to other airports, which pay their taxes to local jurisdictions under a range of special arrangements, one of which the shadow treasurer has just highlighted that is indeed quite bizarre. In contrast, land at the Canberra Airport is directly rateable under ACT legislation.

The bill that we have put forward establishes a methodology that ensures the collection of an equitable share of revenue from airport lands over the next 15 years. At the same time the new methodology gives the Canberra Airport financial certainty and will certainly minimise the risk of general rates disputes in the future.

I thank those officials who have worked diligently on this matter to arrive at a formula that I think is fair to everyone. Again I thank the shadow treasurer for his support of this legislation.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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