Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 04 Hansard (Thursday, 12 April 2018) . . Page.. 1352 ..
It is of no surprise that the government do not want to have a discussion about rates. They do not want to have a discussion about how they are slugging families right across the ACT. They do not want to have a discussion about how they are slugging unit and apartment owners right across the ACT. Of course, they certainly do not want to have a discussion about the rents that they are driving up through their rates and land tax regime.
Many thousands of people signed a petition to at least encourage the government to look into this issue. The Assembly looked into it. We commenced an inquiry. Whilst it was a short inquiry, we got some submissions. But members of the Assembly have encouraged more people to submit. We do not regret asking people to make submissions. We do not regret asking people to have their say. We do not regret giving Canberrans a voice.
The rates regime is unfair, and the changes to the regime for unit and apartment owners is particularly unfair. Previously, the methodology was to divide, then calculate. Now, it is to calculate, then divide. That might sound like semantics, but it is not semantics to the people who are seeing huge increases in their cost of living in the ACT.
It is not just the opposition saying this. Many people in the ACT are talking about their concerns. Take, for instance, the Northside Chronicle, on 10 April:
Seventy year old pensioner Philip Robertson has lived in his Ngunnawal townhouse for 18 years. In 2016, he paid $737 … in rates.
But last year, his rates bill increased to $1085 … before the $100 … rebate.
Mr Robertson’s story is not uncommon. Rates … are increasing as the Barr government abolishes stamp duty and moves towards a land-based method of taxation.
The only problem is that they are still charging hefty sums for stamp duty as well. Take another story, in the Canberra Times of 9 April:
It took them many years and many sacrifices to pay off their three properties, but now they feel their nest egg is being “ransacked” by a government that “refuses to live within a budget”.
On 6 April the Canberra Times reported:
In a series of stinging submissions to an ACT Legislative Assembly inquiry, landlords and owner-occupiers have lashed the Labor-Greens government for changing the way it calculated rates for apartment blocks and unit complexes.
The story goes on:
However thousands of unit owners signed a petition calling on the ACT government to reverse the recalculation, forcing the Legislative Assembly to set up an inquiry into the changes.