Page 3347 - Week 09 - Thursday, 24 August 2017

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MR COE: In an undated letter from the ACT Commissioner for Revenue, the constituent was advised that his concession would be reduced to $604 per year, down $300. In the letter it was explained that “this change will make assistance available to more Canberra households”. The letter went on to explain that some concessions had not previously been available to pensioners who rent. Treasurer, can you please explain to Canberrans such as Reg and Naysin, who are here today, why you are removing these concessions?

MR BARR: I thank the Leader of the Opposition for the question. Yes, the government commissioned a review of all concessions in the territory. That looked at ensuring that concessions were being delivered to those in the greatest need. That review concluded that the energy concessions would be best delivered through a combined concession rather than the previous arrangements where there was a separate concession for water consumption and sewerage and a concession for electricity consumption. The water and sewerage concession went to property owners, thereby excluding all of those who did not have an income sufficient to be a property owner.

The conclusion of the concessions review was that it would be fairer to combine the two concessions, to deliver them by way of the concession for electricity usage, as, whether you were renting or a property owner, you would be utilising electricity. The result of this change in the concession program saw a greater concession offered to even lower income earners in the territory, who were previously missing out on receiving any concession in relation to their water and sewerage use.

MR COE: Treasurer, do you think it is fair for pensioners such as Reg and Naysin to have their rates increased by $500 or 50 per cent this year alone?

MR BARR: The government has made changes to our territory’s taxation system in order to abolish and phase out a series of very bad taxes and make the transition towards the fairest, simplest and most effective way of raising revenue. So we have a change in the tax mix, not a change in the tax take.

The process ensures that everyone makes a contribution. Those who are eligible for concessions receive concessions. It is open to anyone who qualifies to defer their rates payments entirely to the sale of their property, not related to how long they may or may not live but to the sale of their property. That is an option that is available. Those opposite might seek to continue that line of argument but they know they are wrong and we know they are wrong.

MS LE COUTEUR: Minister, what modelling does the government do about the impact of rates in particular on different demographics such as older and low income Canberrans?

MR BARR: The modelling that was undertaken at an ACT level was contained within the tax review that was undertaken about six years ago. Modelling has been undertaken and commissioned by the Australian government over the past 40 years. That has outlined why the tax reform approach being undertaken by the

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