Page 3107 - Week 08 - Thursday, 16 August 2018

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the property is sold. I am very pleased that the age deferment scheme is being expanded to virtually everybody over 65. It used to be available only to people with expensive properties. I believe that as tax reform continues we are going to have to make more adjustments like this to ensure that our rating system is fair. Unfortunately, the ACT, like other jurisdictions at our level, has only a very small range of things we can tax, and they do not tend to be progressive taxes.

I move on to a more cheerful subject. Community engagement has always been a key Greens priority. We welcome the extra $5 million in funding. We are very pleased to see that the government is now making much more use of participatory democracy, which has been a long-term Greens priority. We see it as a way, hopefully, of improving the decisions that we make and of improving the trust in the decisions. I am very pleased to see it being used for both CTP and housing choices.

But the good work of some parts of the government on this is being let down by others. For example, I would have to say that I was really shocked by the decision to reconsider the DA for the Curtin shops rather than put in a new DA. I hope that the new funding will allow for more improvement in community consultation.

Another issue on which the Greens hold concern is the intergovernmental agreement on identity matching services signed at the Council of Australian Governments last year. In particular, we are concerned that, based on the bill tabled in federal parliament, the private data of ACT residents could be handed over to the Department of Home Affairs, which could in turn disclose this information to private corporations.

We welcome the Chief Minister’s commitment that the ACT signed up to the intergovernmental agreement only on the basis that it would be compatible with our Human Rights Act. We really look forward to seeing how this will be implemented in a way that is human rights compatible.

Moving to the arts, there are a few initiatives I would like to mention. There is funding for both major events and Canberra’s events calendar. I would like to reiterate the Greens’ concern that it is time to set a minimum local performer content target to ensure that at least a certain proportion of this funding goes towards supporting our local artists and performers.

It is great to improve tourism numbers and to have more events here in Canberra. But if there is no commitment to ensuring that our local artists are supported, a major part of the plus may not be happening. We need to know that these funds are going towards local art as well as interstate and overseas performers.

Obviously, like everyone else, we are very pleased that the Belconnen Arts Centre is getting additional funding for stage 2 of the centre. This will help with integrating the centre’s expansion with landscaping and park network around the broader town centre and Lake Ginninderra.

Speaking of theatres, this budget funds the commissioning of a business case for a new Canberra theatre complex. The Greens are supportive of this preliminary work but we want to caution that this work needs to look holistically at the Civic Square

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