Page 2126 - Week 06 - Thursday, 8 June 2017

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massive increases to rates, land tax, parking fines, parking fees, levies, payroll tax and numerous other government charges. Despite this massive increase in revenue, the government will produce a fiscal deficit of $485 million next financial year. The interest bill on our debt next year alone will be $194 million.

In 2012, when the ACT government implemented its tax reforms designed to move away from stamp duty to rates, the total take from stamp duty, rates, land tax, insurance levy and the fire levy was $663 million. Now, five years on, this tax mix has increased to $958 million. The 44 per cent increase is hurting Canberrans. In fact, stamp duty, despite supposedly being phased out, will bring in more money next year than it did in 2012.

Rates again are on the increase in this budget, by far more than many residents can afford. Over the past few years household rates have increased by an average of 10 per cent per year. The unfair changes for unit owners mean that they will soon be paying considerably more. Meanwhile, many small businesses are struggling with skyrocketing commercial rates. Canberrans are being gouged. The rate hikes are not fair. The specific changes to rates for unit holders are not consistent with a government that claims to want higher density. Rates are tripling. Home owners are being squeezed tighter and the government is therefore driving up the cost of rent in Canberra.

In the past week, a new national study focusing on first homebuyers uncovered that there was not one affordable suburb in the whole of the ACT. This is what we have come to, and it is not a good sign for the future. It is no wonder that many people who would otherwise love to buy a house or a block of land here in Canberra are moving across the border where the cost of land is about half of that in LDA estates.

We have a planning system that is too complex. Our system does not encourage innovation, affordable housing, density in key areas or good design. In fact, the system does the opposite. The system promotes a cookie-cutter approach, price gouging and empty buildings in the city, while apartments are built on the fringe away from services and hospitality.

Our planning system and land release program are driving up the cost of housing. Who is responsible for this situation? Surely the ACT government must take some responsibility, given they have had control of land release, the planning system, lease variations and infrastructure development for 16 years.

The Canberra Liberals know that people are the drivers of our economy, not government. Rather than having a government be the determinant of success, we want to reward risk takers. We want to make Canberra a place where people feel like they are rewarded for effort, they can take calculated risks, they can provide products and services and build businesses.

I think that payroll tax is counterintuitive to growth. It is counterintuitive to prosperity and importantly it is counterintuitive to employment. We need to have a strategy to make Canberra the most competitive place to employ people regardless of the

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