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Monday, 13 February 2012
Page: 976

Mr GEORGANAS (Hindmarsh) (11:26): I thank the chamber for the opportunity to be able to speak briefly on this motion moved by the member for Lyne. I know there is keen interest among all of us in our local governments, and many members of the House were formerly members of local governments across the nation, as the member for Dawson was. Over the years, many constituents in my electorate have brought up this issue and the subject of taxes and the GST. They have often said to me that, when the GST was implemented back in 2001, their understanding was that it would result in the elimination of stamp duties and a whole range of other taxes across the board by the states. They relay all this to me: they voted in a GST back then because they were told it would cause the abolition of all the state taxes that were dogging them in their private and public lives at the time. People believed that would be the case in the post-2001 period—that is, with the introduction of the GST many taxes were going to be taken off, including the stamp duties in the states—and they feel that they did not get that deal and that they were perhaps dudded or conned. That is the feeling of the constituency out there; that is what I am hearing.

When we look at the GST and we look at what the proceeds could or should be used for, I always go back to that deal that the members of the community in my electorate thought they were signing up for originally and the fulfilment of that deal. As far as I am concerned, that deal has not yet been fulfilled. People expected stamp duties and a whole range of state taxes to have been abolished and they are still waiting for it a decade on. That is the impression out there in the real world. I think we should see how that particular deal the former government spoke about back in 2000 and 2001 can be honoured. Only after it has been honoured would I look to other things that could be done with the proceeds of the goods and services tax.

I do not have an objection to funds raised by the Commonwealth going directly to local governments, and we see that happening across the country more and more. For example, recently in my own electorate, in the suburb of Glenelg in the local government area of the City of Holdfast Bay, we saw a brand new bridge built. Nearly $3.5 million came directly from the federal government to Holdfast Bay to partially fund the replacement of a bridge that had concrete cancer. Mayor Ken Rolland—a very good mayor who does an extremely good job in Holdfast Bay—was running to local and state governments, everywhere, to get the funding for the bridge, but he could not secure it. We then tried to get funding through the federal government, and can I say that I was very pleased to be able to secure the money for the bridge in the Holdfast Bay council area. The old King Street Bridge has now been renamed the Michael Herbert Bridge. I was very pleased to be with the mayor not that long ago to conduct the opening of this wonderful bridge, which carries about 10,000 vehicles every day. This is an example of direct funding from the federal government to a local government.

As I said, I do not have an objection to Commonwealth funding or any funds being raised by the Commonwealth going directly to local governments; but, at the same time, I cannot support this motion as it would delay or further diminish the likelihood of the deal that was struck between the previous government and the public being honoured. It so happens that that deal included more taxes than stamp duty. Some have been abolished, to be fair; but the matter is not settled. It seems that representatives from the community, including the business community, are not content with the situation as it stands. They, too, acknowledge that there is more work to be done towards the fulfilment of the original promise of displacing all state taxes with the GST.

The tax summit that was convened by the government in October 2011 bore witness to this perspective by everyone who submitted or contributed to it. The tax summit concluded on a desire to reform state based taxation with the states and to develop agreement across the country on a system of taxation which diminishes the economic drag of taxation— (Time expired)

Debate adjourned.