Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 15 August 2017) . . Page.. 2655 ..
Mr Barr: They sold all their assets.
MR COE: But that is distinct from the surplus that they have of $4.5 billion. The reality is—
Mr Barr: They have sold everything off. Is this you announcing your policy to sell ActewAGL?
MR COE: It is interesting that the Chief Minister should talk about selling off assets in New South Wales—but that is not the surplus. That does account for net debt, but the $4.5 billion surplus that they have in New South Wales is on the back—
Mr Barr: It comes off the stamp duty boom and the Sydney property market.
MR COE: And once again we say that stamp duty is such a great thing in New South Wales but here apparently it is to be condemned.
Mr Barr: Yes, it is a very bad tax.
MR COE: The difference in the ACT is that they have not abolished stamp duty. Despite every media release which asserts that we are great economic reformers, they are still taking record amounts of stamp duty. Tell someone who just purchased a property for $500,000, $600,000 or $800,000, as so many people in Canberra are forced to do, that there is no stamp duty. Tell them after they have paid $20,000 in stamp duty that it has been abolished. Of course it is a furphy. Not only that but also this government then double-dips by increasing the rates. A real test for this government is going to come with the average unimproved values on the back of the Mr Fluffy auctions. Many suburbs in Canberra have not had many unimproved blocks sold for many years. But now, as a result of the Mr Fluffy scheme, there are going to be potential unimproved values that are determined by the auction results.
Is this government going to now use auction results in Hughes, Kambah, Wanniassa, Giralang—many suburbs in Canberra that have not had an unimproved block of land sold for decades—as the new value at which blocks in these suburbs will be determined? If so, we are potentially going to see massive increases to rates right across Canberra. It is up to the Chief Minister and Treasurer to give an assurance to all homeowners in Canberra that the auction results that we are seeing for the Mr Fluffy sales are not going to be incorporated and used as the new standard for unimproved values in the relevant suburbs. If so, Canberrans are in for a nasty shock with regard to their rates and their land tax notices. This government has been silent on this issue so far, but I am calling on the Chief Minister today to clarify what this government’s policy is regarding the average unimproved value on the back of the Mr Fluffy sales.
With Mr Barr’s reforms in 2011-12, rates have increased by 87 per cent for houses in the inner south. In the inner north, it has been 86 per cent. The average across the ACT is an increase of 63 per cent since 2011-12. The percentage increases in rates for units across Canberra are, in many instances, considerably worse. Here in the ACT,