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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 01 Hansard (Thursday, 15 February 2018) . . Page.. 231 ..

card very hard over that time. We introduced this particular measure in the 2016 budget, before the 2016 territory election. Tax reform was one of the defining issues in both the 2012 and 2016 ACT elections.

The Leader of the Opposition has presented a particular case that is consistent with the position that the Liberal Party held over those two elections. So it will not come as a surprise to anyone that the position I will outline today is consistent with the position that we took to the 2012 and 2016 elections and, indeed, consistent with the position that we will take to the 2020 election. It is our view, as the majority of members in this Assembly, consistent with the position we took in 2012 and 2016, that tax reform is important and that we must collect a sufficient level of revenue to provide the range of services that this community needs.

Later today I will introduce the second appropriation bill, which will allocate additional resources for more surgeries for people who need that important health service. We will be introducing a further $50 boost to the utilities concession for the lowest income Canberrans. We will certainly be undertaking a series of further investments in the needs of, and services for, this community.

I am quite comfortable with the contrast of our approach. It is to see a productive role for government, to ensure that the most vulnerable citizens in our community are supported through public health and public education services and through the provision of additional concessions to support low income earners. We take those positions to elections and people have a choice. They exercise their choice and they mostly enjoy the opportunity to participate in the democratic process. And they do have a choice.

This debate today provides another opportunity to contrast the different perspectives and positions on the role of government in our society and on the best way to raise revenue. Every review of taxation in this nation over the last four decades has recommended that state and territory government abolish inefficient taxes like insurance taxes, which we have done in the ACT—we are the first state or territory to do so—and get rid of stamp duty, which is a bad tax. It is a bad tax, Madam Speaker.

That is why in every budget that I have delivered as Treasurer, and that I will continue to deliver as Treasurer, I will cut stamp duty. This is not simply an exercise in being able to remove a certain range of taxes and then think that we can continue to provide the range of services that this growing community needs. It is a change in the tax mix; that is true. But we are getting rid of the worst taxes that state and territory governments levy and moving to the most efficient tax available to us, the one that distorts economic activity the least and that is the simplest and fairest way for us to raise revenue.

I repeat that not everyone likes paying tax. We understand that. But we also need to provide the services that this community needs. If we are to raise revenue, which we need to do, then we should surely use the best and fairest means available to us. As I have said in this debate that we have been having in this place over the last seven years now, we cannot, as a government and as a community, plan for future service provision based on trying to guess how many houses will transact in a given year.

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