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Thursday, 15 November 1973

Senator LAUCKE (South Australia) - Very briefly I wish to indicate my support for the motion. Our leader has indicated the general attitude of the Liberal Party Opposition in relation to this matter. I would like to commend Senator Wood for having introduced this motion for disallowance and particularly for his having amended the original proposal so that the present proposal is to embrace only the disallowance of increases in connection with business premises, including hotels, motels and other establishments. I feel that the Ordinance underlines the incidence of the unfair treatment of a certain section of the community, which I feel must be rectified. The increases in charges are extremely selective and represent a very heavy impact on the hotel and motel accommodation in the Australian Capital Territory. From the tourist point of view it would be most undesirable to impose a terribly heavy impost.

I believe that Senator O 'Byrne possibly included in the figures that he cited ratings other than those for sewerage. In some States, the Council rates, water rates and sewerage rates are brought together into one figure. I felt that the figures he referred to surely must not be factual if applied to sewerage alone. The hotel and motel industry in the Australian Capital Territory provides some 2,000 rooms. An extra $95,600 would be required from the industry under this proposal to cover its guest rooms, plus the charges for staff and public area units. I have no doubt that the levy proposed in the Ordinance which seeks to double the sewerage rate for toilet units to $50 each after the first 2 units at $25 each would have a very heavy impact on the tourist industry, leading to an increase in tariffs. I believe that one of the biggest bugbears of tourism in Australia at the present time is the ever escalating tariff charges for accommodation. To increase the basic sewerage rate by $25 making it $50 across the whole of the business community would, in fact, increase the liability of this section by no less than $357,700. While this business community has a combined total of less than 12 per cent of the flushing units in Canberra it is being asked to pay more than 2 1 per cent of the total estimated revenue from sewerage rates in the year 1973-74. I believe that a very heavy impost on motel and hotel accommodation could well be reflected in policies in other parts of Australia. So I believe that from the point of view of undesirable selectivity, burdening on section of the community, the business interests, in this way this is wrong. I am completely in favour of the motion for disallowance of this regulation, as moved by Senator Wood.

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