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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 01 Hansard (Thursday, 15 February 2018) . . Page.. 235 ..

I understand, by the Carnell government. The reason I say it is crazy is that it is only available if the unimproved capital value of your land is in the top 20 per cent of unimproved capital values in the ACT. In other words, if you are lucky enough to own land that has a value that is well above the average value, basically you can defer your rates indefinitely. There is no other means test. You have to be over 65.

I think that this deferment should be expanded so that if you are over 65 you can defer your rates regardless of the value of your property. Probably there should be some means testing introduced at the same time as widening it to all of Canberra, not just the more expensive parts of Canberra.

I note, however, that the government is doing its best to ensure that this is not used. It has been used only twice. I had a constituent recently who was in some considerable difficulty. I said to her, “You should be eligible for the age-based deferment.” She rang up the Revenue Office. They did not tell her about it. We went backwards and forwards a couple of times. I had to show her the part on the website, which is not easy to find. It showed that she was eligible for it. I am hopeful that she has got it.

I think one of the issues is that where we have concessions and deferments available, the government is not telling the vulnerable people who could take advantage of these about what is available for them. This is important. There is no point in having something which is going to improve the fairness of the system if the people who could use it are not told about it and the government actively denies knowledge of it when people go to inquire about it. I think that the whole issue of deferment schemes does need looking at.

The concession rebates on rates are good. I am pleased that the government has recently expanded them, although I personally would have liked to see more money go into them. What happened is that they were expanded so that they would be relevant to a greater number of people. But it meant that the amount that people were receiving before went down. I think we could have been just a bit more generous here. Nonetheless, I am hopeful that these matters of social justice and fairness will be looked at by the public accounts committee—not just the issue, which I agree is an important issue, of rates for people in multi-unit developments. That is important.

It is all part of having a fair system and an economically efficient system in the ACT. I think this is a great petition. I commend this work to the public accounts committee. I really look forward to seeing the committee’s report.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Portfolio priorities 2018

Ministerial statement

MS FITZHARRIS (Yerrabi—Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Minister for Transport and City Services and Minister for Higher Education, Training and Research) (10.38): It is wonderful to be back in the chamber for another year with a great team of Labor members, refreshed and eager to continue our work delivering for

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