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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 13 Hansard (Wednesday, 18 November 2015) . . Page.. 4115 ..

moves to reduce and abolish the duty on conveyances and insurance, producing significant savings for households. We do not want a tax on things like insurance. That actually provides a disincentive for what is essentially a good thing for people to do, that is, take out insurance.

I note the figures cited by the Treasurer and Chief Minister in his amendment around stamp duty. There has been a reduction in stamp duty of $5,900 since the tax reform started in 2012 for a $500,000 property. That is a substantial saving, particularly for people who are endeavouring to buy their first house. That is very much the price range that first homebuyers are going in at, or perhaps a bit lower than that. They are saving a substantial amount of money at a time when they may be struggling the most to break into the housing market. This is not just about moving to a more efficient and sustainable tax system; there are very important social outcomes here.

Mr Hanson in his remarks used very emotive terms like “cruel”. That is simplistic and it reflects the way that he seeks to communicate with people. He talked about this being unfair on older people. If we look at the barriers to downsizing that things like stamp duty create, it is simply a very simplistic analysis on his part. If people are living in a house that is no longer suitable for them—perhaps a four-bedroom family house which was entirely appropriate at one time—and are attracted to living in a two-bedroom apartment or a townhouse or something a bit different to what they have lived in, they are looking at a very substantial stamp duty barrier. It actually provides a perverse incentive for those people. We are saying, “There is a barrier to you moving.” For me, the removal of stamp duty in this context is a very attractive opportunity and one that this series of tax reforms supports.

I will keep my remarks very short today because a lot has already been said in this debate. I think it is unfortunate that this significant tax reform has been reduced to the simplistic level that we now see. This is a good, long-term strategy for our city to move away from what everybody recognises are inefficient, transactional-type taxes and towards a sustainable land-based tax system that enables the government to plan for the long term and provide a reliable source of income for the provision of community services. That is why we support this approach and that is why I will be supporting Mr Barr’s amendment today.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (11.48): When Mr Rattenbury talks about access to housing, I refer him to the comments of a former Chief Minister who said, when commenting on what was his greatest regret from his time in office, “The decline in housing affordability in the ACT.” This is something that the Labor Party, supported by the Greens, over the past 15 years have contributed to. You may have concerns, Mr Rattenbury, but you have contributed to it through your party and through your own efforts.

The Urban Development Institute says that the two greatest impacts on the cost of housing are land and the fees and charges they pay. Which jurisdiction has that under the control of one form of government? The ACT. Logically, it would be much easier to ease that burden, particularly on first homebuyers, but it has gotten worse. Housing affordability is a significant problem in this territory and, in the words of a former Chief Minister, it is his greatest regret that they could not solve the problem, and you are not solving the problem now.

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