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Thursday, 1 June 2000
Page: 16916

Ms MACKLIN (10:55 AM) —I take the opportunity today to talk about the impact of the GST on local government areas in my electorate—Banyule City Council and Nillumbik Shire Council. I am pleased to see that the member for McEwen is present today. She also represents part of the Nillumbik council area.

These two councils and, most importantly, the people who live in these areas, are blessed with an enormous array of community services, both sporting and leisure services. We have a very beautiful part of Melbourne and the outer environs of Melbourne to live in. The community is a very active one which participates in a wide variety of community activities, and gets a lot of support from the two councils to do that. There is a wide range of sporting facilities that are supported by the councils. There is a wide range of community halls that the councils own and hire out to different community groups, which does enhance the capacity of the community to come together to pursue their various interests.

I want to talk today about how that will be affected by the GST, because the effect will be very real indeed. Just to give you an idea of what will be the effect on Banyule City Council, which covers most of my electorate, Banyule City Council expects to collect about $1.2 million in the GST. So $1.2 million will be paid out by the citizens of Banyule on the GST as a result of people paying more for the goods and services that Banyule City Council delivers. They also expect the set-up costs of the GST to be substantial, even though they are only getting, I understand, $2,000 in relief from the federal government. The council estimates the set-up costs to be $250,000. So that council will be substantially out of pocket. Of course, we will see the impact flow through to the availability of services for people who live in the Banyule area. We will also see a dramatic rise in the prices of the services that people have come to expect from the council, whether it is directly because of the GST, or because the council has to pass on price rises because of the set-up costs that will flow from the introduction of the GST.

Nillumbik council, the one that I share with the member for McEwen, has so far been unable to give any accurate estimates of what it will mean for them. What they did say to my office this week was that they expect the cost increases to be substantial.

I want to outline some of the specific local facilities that will attract the GST. I refer to sport and leisure centres, which are extremely well used in the area: the Olympic Leisure Centre in West Heidelberg, the Macleod Recreation and Fitness Centre and the Eltham Leisure Centre. Whenever I go to any of those places—and these are just examples, of course—either to swim myself or to watch my children play basketball, they are usually packed with children and parents. They are the people who are going to be paying more to use those terrific services. Swimming pools: the Ivanhoe Aquatic Centre, the Greensborough swimming pool, the Watsonia indoor pool—all of these pools will attract the GST. That will mean increased prices for children and everybody else who uses those facilities.

We have heard a lot about the importance of the halls that are for hire in our communities. We all know how critical they are for our communities, particularly for senior citizens to get together and for lots of other activities, as places to get together and have a good time. The halls for hire just in Banyule, for example, are the Warringal Senior Citizens Centre, the Bellfield Community Hall—and I must say that whenever I go there they cram a great many people in and they will have to do that even more with the increased cost of hiring the hall—the Briar Hill Community Hall, the Macleod Community Hall, the Greensborough Senior Citizens, and I could go on. There are many halls in our area that are fantastically well used. People get so much benefit out of them and, of course, all of them will now have to pay extra because all those halls will have to pay the GST to the council. In the Nillumbik area we will see the increase in cost for the use of the Eltham Community and Reception Centre and the Eltham North Hall, and so it goes on.

Sporting grounds are another case in point. I am sure many of us spend a lot of time at sporting grounds and in the pavilions that go with them. We have some tremendous resources in that regard, as well, in our community both in Banyule and Nillumbik. In Banyule we have a beautiful area along the Yarra River, the Banyule Flats Reserve. We have areas in West Heidelberg, Ford Park, the Loyola Reserve in Bundoora, Partingtons Flat, Petrie Park, Yallambie Park, and the Olympic Park in West Heidelberg from the old Olympics in 1956. All of these parks, of course, will attract a GST. All the sporting grounds will attract a GST. We know that the price of going to watch any of the games that are played—cricket or football or whatever it might be, whether we are watching our children play or we are there supporting our local teams—is going to go up and everybody is going to have to pay more to watch and participate in those local sporting events.

In Nillumbik it will be Eltham Central Park, the Eltham North Reserve, and the Eltham Lower Park—which is a fantastic park with a wide range of different sports played at it. All of these places and more will also see people having to pay more for those sporting facilities. Many people in our area participate in the tennis clubs. The tennis clubs are very active with a lot of people playing at Beverley Road Reserve in Heidelberg, Central Park in Greensborough, Chelsworth Park in Ivanhoe and the Elder Street Reserve in Watsonia. Whichever part of the electorate that I might talk about there are parks, reserves, halls and particular sporting facilities like swimming pools, and all of these places will find that the cost goes up entirely because of this GST.

As I said at the start, the Banyule City Council expects to collect $1.2 million in GST from the users, that means from the people who live in the suburbs of Ivanhoe, West Heidelberg, right out to Greensborough and Watsonia. All of the people who live in those suburbs will be paying more for these tremendous facilities. This is entirely the result of the GST. I just find it extraordinary that we are seeing a tax introduced on these essential community services—services that provide a great place for people to come together whether to keep fit or just to be part of the community for whatever reason. That will now be that much more expensive entirely because of this GST. This is just one more reason, from the Labor Party's point of view, that this tax is being opposed. It is just one more reason we can see how clearly this is an unfair tax that goes to the heart of attacking our community.