Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 13 Hansard (Thursday, 29 November 2018) . . Page.. 5088 ..
are stating that the government’s taxation regime is a risk to commercial property values in the territory. It is not growing our economy; it is not stimulating activity in our economy; it is destabilising not just the economy but the livelihoods of those people who seek to take the risk and invest in our city. I am confident that the inquiry will uncover this.
If the Chief Minister stepped out of his ivory tower and spoke to the people that put it all at stake to invest in their future, in their business and to better their families, he would realise that it is not as rosy and glossy as he would have us all believe. So many investors of commercial property in the ACT are not huge corporations. They are not multinationals trying to deliver dividends to shareholders; they are mum and dad investors. They are the electrician who has worked hard, built a small business, occupied a premises and thought. “The best thing I can do for my future is to buy the premises I occupy so that I have some form of superannuation when I retire.” It is those people who are bearing the brunt of this so-called progressive tax reform.
MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (12.33): The Greens will be supporting Mr Coe’s motion for the establishment of a committee inquiry into commercial rates. I will not talk at great length, given the pressures on our timetable today, but I will take the opportunity to make two points. The first is a point which I have made many times before but of which we have to keep reminding ourselves—there is a reason we have taxation. For many years the Canberra community has repeatedly voted in parties with a progressive agenda, basically supporting government services, rather than voting for parties advocating a tiny-weeny government approach.
Canberrans clearly want our health services well funded; we want well-funded public education. Better suburbs shows that we want more to be spent on city services, not less, and so on across a range of government services. The Leader of the Opposition has characterised taxation as gouging. I do not think that is a fair characterisation. The point of this discussion is to make sure that it is not a fair characterisation.
The reality is that government services cost money to deliver. That money can otherwise be called taxation. Governments require taxation. The key question is not whether we are gouging people; the key question is how we organise our taxation system in a fair way to achieve a good level of economic efficiency to support the things that the community has made abundantly clear they want the government to provide. Mr Coe’s inquiry should not be an inquiry into gouging; it should be an inquiry into how the system can be changed—if it needs to be changed—to make taxation fairer. That is the issue.
The second point I will make is that the public accounts committee recently completed an inquiry into the methodology for determining rates and land tax on strata residences, and it made a number of recommendations. Recommendation 6, which was supported unanimously by the ALP and Liberal members of the committee states:
The Committee recommends that the ACT government conduct a public review of the ACT system for rates and land tax …