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Tuesday, 20 November 1973
Page: 1900

Senator LAWRIE (QUEENSLAND) -Will the Minister representing the Minister for the Capital Territory convey to the Senate the answer to my question without notice, which he has already given to me in writing, concerning the valuation of freehold agricultural land adjacent to cities, and particularly that adjacent to Canberra which was the subject of a recent attempt at acquisitions at less than ruling market rates? In the light of the attitude of the Commissioner of Taxation in relation to this matter, will he concede that the Government was trying to apply a double standard to the value of lands proposed to be acquired in the Australian Capital Territory? As this question was asked in the Senate, will the Minister give the answer in the Senate?

Senator WILLESEE - Yes, certainly. I just thought I was helping by sending the honourable senator a letter containing the latest information. Would the honourable senator like to table it? He could do that if he likes or, if he would rather, he can give it to me and I will read it out. We can follow any course the honourable senator likes. All he seems to want is the answer to a question when that answer has already been supplied.

Senator Webster - Read it out.

Senator WILLESEE -Senator Lawrie had asked me what was the attitude of the Commissioner of Taxation when dealing with the estate of a deceased person. The honourable senator wanted to know whether the Commissioner would value the land at the rural rate or whether he would take into account what I took to be the potential of the land for urban development. I see that the honourable senator agrees with that. Although that inference could be drawn because of something that happened the other night, the honourable senator did not say in his question that that is what he meant, but makes clear now that that is what was in his mind. My letter to the honourable senator reads as follows:

Dear Senator Lawrie,

On 8 November, 1973 you asked in the Senate whether rural freehold land in the Australian Capital Territory is valued for death duty purposes at what it is considered to be worth as an agricultural proposition or at what it would bring in the open market as a future urban proposition, that is, at market value as determined by sales evidence.

The Treasurer has now advised me that under the provisions of the Estate Duty Assessment Act, duty is assessed on the value of assets owned by a deceased person, the courts having held over the years that 'value ' in the context of this Act means the market value at the date of death.

It follows then that a property, whether it be a rural freeholding in the Australian Capital Territory or any other property, must be assessed at its market value as determined by reliable sales evidence at the date of death. Such sales evidence will of course be an expression of the market place assessment of all the future benefits of ownership.

Yours sincerely,

It is very nicely signed ' D. R. Willesee '.

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