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Wednesday, 12 February 2014
Page: 299

Mrs WICKS (Robertson) (11:15): Today I rise to express my thanks to the Australian Taxation Office for their sensible decision to withdraw the draft ruling released on 30 October last year regarding GST on moveable home estates. This draft ruling, were it to have been adopted, would have required operators of these estates to pay GST when a land site was leased to a resident. While many residents own their own home, they actually pay weekly land leasing costs to the park operator. In my electorate of Robertson, more than 2,000 people live in moveable home estates, and the overwhelming majority of them are on the Age Pension or Disability Support Pension. I understand from conversations with owners and residents that the average weekly leasing cost is about $120 to $150 per week on the Central Coast. Many park owners I spoke with advised me they would reluctantly need to pass on to residents any GST costs associated with the leasing of such sites, and this would have added an additional $12 to $20 per week to the cost of living for 2,000 residents in my electorate, hitting hardest those who can least afford it. After public discussion, including extensive opposition from residents and park owners across the Central Coast, the ATO quite rightly announced it was withdrawing the ruling, on 20 December last year. I thank the hundreds of local residents who joined me in lending their voice to oppose this draft ruling. I acknowledge the hard work done by a number of people who worked tirelessly to raise awareness in the local community about our shared concerns, including Shirley Dalton, Irene Broadhead, Vanya Neus, Graham and Shirley Byrne, William and Maureen Howard, Robyn and Barry Luxford, Maureen Green, Malcolm May and Paul Craig. Dozens of petitions were sent to me containing many hundreds of signatures. Public meetings were held in various locations around my electorate, and I was pleased to attend and listen to the concerns expressed by the dozens of people who came to every one. In the many hours I spent listening and chatting to residents over the past few months, the number one issue we discussed was their concern about the costs of living. That is why I am pleased with the decision of the ATO, and I am grateful because it means there is one less area of pressure on so many people in their everyday struggle to make ends meet, not only in Robertson but indeed around Australia.

It is a timely reminder that the cost of living is a significant concern, and it is also why I again place on record my opposition to the carbon tax. The carbon tax, which the coalition government is committed to abolishing, is costing the average family in my electorate around $550 a year, and we are determined to put that money back in their pockets. It is why the people in Robertson voted for us, and we will deliver on our commitment to them. The best possible support we can give to people in Robertson, and indeed across Australia—people who are dealing with cost of living pressures every single day—is to repeal the carbon tax.

Representing my community, the community in which I grew up, the community in which I am now raising my own two children, is a great honour. It is an enormous privilege and responsibility, and I am humbled to have stood alongside so many hundreds of my fellow community members in support of their fight to see the ATO's draft ruling repealed.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Porter ): Order! In accordance with standing order 193 the time for constituency statements has concluded.