Page 2267 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 3 August 2016

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Commercial land tax and insurance duty have already been abolished, being replaced with a more efficient and fair source of revenue through general rates. We have announced in the budget that conveyance duty will be phased out completely for commercial property transactions below $1.5 million from 2018-19. So that is 70 per cent of commercial property transactions—small and medium sized enterprises—no longer paying any commercial stamp duty. That is a reform worth delivering and worth fighting for. That is why I have delivered it in this year’s budget.

The government has also cut payroll tax. We have the lowest payroll tax, as the shadow minister reluctantly acknowledged when pressed. We have the lowest payroll tax for small and medium sized businesses in the country. Again, it is a deliberate policy choice. Payroll tax is paid in this jurisdiction predominantly by national and multinational companies. They do not pay their fair share of taxes at the federal level. They certainly should at the territory level. That is why payroll tax is an efficient way of raising revenue off those businesses.

In closing, while those opposite will continue to sling mud, attack local businesses and cast aspersions on the sustained growth of the territory economy, we will continue to create jobs and to create opportunities for the many and varied businesses here in Canberra. We will not be supporting this motion this afternoon.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (5.24): I welcome the opportunity to talk about business growth in the ACT. The ACT Greens believe the territory needs a robust, diverse and sustainable private sector. We want to build on the ACT’s opportunities as the national capital and support research and innovation hubs. This is the first time I remember debating this sort of topic without Mr Smyth here. But I am sure he would agree with me that we need a diversified, resilient, dynamic and sustainable business sector to complement a strong public sector. I can picture Mr Smyth giving this speech now. It is like the ghost of Mr Smyth is in the chamber as I talk about a diversified economy. The thing is, Mr Smyth never actually told us how he was going to do it. Nonetheless, I can imagine the speech.

MADAM DEPUTY SPEAKER: Back to the motion, I think, Mr Rattenbury.

MR RATTENBURY: Yes, we do need a sustainable private sector to complement a strong public sector and community sector and grow significant and meaningful employment here in the territory. Part of this make-up of our economy includes creating the settings for the private sector to be able to promote diverse, creative and vibrant industries in sectors such as arts, culture and entertainment, information and communications technology, health, research and education, tourism, retail and hospitality, all these areas where the ACT, I believe, has a degree of natural advantage.

There are obviously some areas that the ACT is never going to be strong in—heavy industries and the like. In that context, we certainly believe that part of our vision should be a clean, green ACT economy. The government needs to foster innovative sustainable industries such as energy efficiency and renewable energy as well as support research and development to cultivate zero carbon industries and processes.

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