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Libs put heat on academic over latest rate claims

Date

Noel Towell

A Canberra Liberals truck used during the October ACT election to spread one of their key campaign messages.

A Canberra Liberals truck used during the October ACT election to spread one of their key campaign messages. Photo: Supplied

The Canberra Liberals have stepped up their attack on a university economist who cast doubt on the party's ''triple your rates'' election slogan during October's territory election.

Opposition leader Zed Seselja and his deputy Brendan Smyth used parliamentary privilege in the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday to allege University of Canberra academic Ben Phillips had ''changed his tune'', on Labor's tax reform after the election was over.

The Liberals moved a motion in Wednesday's sitting calling on the Labor-Greens government to outline what it would do to relieve the ''outrageous'' cost of living pressure on ''Canberra families'', with Mr Seselja making it clear that his party's rates campaign had not ended with its defeat at last month's election.

Mr Phillips, who said during the campaign that his work was being misrepresented by the Canberra Liberals in election material letterboxed to tens of thousands of homes, came in for attention from both Mr Smyth and Mr Seselja.

The Liberals seized on an ABC report broadcast on November 15 that said the economist, who assisted former Treasurer Ted Quinlan in his review of the tax system, had described the tax reforms as more efficient and less equitable than the present system.

''Now we've had a change of heart from Ben Phillips, it seems because before the election he was saying it was efficient and it was equitable,'' Mr Seselja told the Assembly chamber yesterday.

''After the election, it turns out that it is more efficient and less equitable, he's changed his tune either side of the election on what this does.

''We agree with the latest statement from Mr Phillips, we agree with the latest position from Mr Phillips in relation to this, we agree with the latest statement from Mr Phillips on this, that it is less equitable.''

Mr Smyth echoed his leader's words with the deputy saying Mr Phillips had admitted the taxation changes were not fair.

''If you look at the summary of the reforms from one of the individuals who helped put the package together, he now confesses that there will be many losers and few winners in this government's reforms,'' the Liberals' Treasury spokesman said.

Mr Seselja's motion was heavily amended by Greens minister Shane Rattenbury to reflect the Labor-Greens agenda and another amendment by Mr Smyth, trying to force the government to produce 20 years of economic modelling for its tax changes, was rejected by the Assembly.

Treasurer Andrew Barr said he had already outlined the first five years of his tax reforms.

''I've already released information on the next five years and I'll update further information wit the budget in 2013,'' Mr Barr said.

Mr Phillips said that his comments had been taken out of context.

''The commentary in the ABC recently and alerted to by Mr Seselja relates to a general comment made about rates being less equitable than stamp duty,'' the economist said

''To an extent this has been taken out of context.''

Mr Phillips offered to meet with any local politician who was seeking a better understanding of his approach to tax reform.

''The pros and cons of the reform underway in the ACT are probably too nuanced for media soundbites to do the reforms justice,'' he said.

7 comments

  • Not surprised. It has been deliberate Liberal policy to discredit scientists and economists over the past two years. The company which "costed" the Federal Coalition's policies was fined for failing to meet minimum standards. They have hurled abuse at CSIRO scientists, referring to them as Warmists. They prefer to follow the creative statistics of Lordless Monckton and Alan Jones. It is now standard Conservative policy to bully and belittle anyone who disagrees with them and to portray scientists and economists as crack pots. The truth of the tripling rates tactic will be revealed over the next few years. If it has been a lie then Zed should resign.

    Commenter
    Eric Olthwaite
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    November 29, 2012, 11:13AM
    • Eric the lie was from Labor, who REFUSED time after time to actually spell out what the tax reform would mean in real terms, and they avoided the question re whether rates will go up heavily, because they knew that it was true, and that Canberrans would rightly not want to hear of more rates rises on top of the ridiculously high cost of living already burdening the vulnerable. All they did was fluff about before the election and call in "experts" (former Labor MLA, authors of the report they were trying to shuffle through), they hardly acted transparently in any sense of the word. So yes, you're right, we will see the truth in the coming years, and I hope I'm out of Canberra by the time my rates unfairly go through the roof.

      Commenter
      Nate
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      November 29, 2012, 2:22PM
    • Nate, I beg to differ. The Liberals are the ones who based their entire election strategy on a lie about rates tripling, the same scare tactics Abbott is using over the carbon tax. As I said I'm expecting Zed to resign if my rates don't triple over the next three years. That means I'll be paying $6000 a year in rates. Really? I don't think so. Maybe in 2025.

      Commenter
      Eric Olthwaite
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      November 29, 2012, 5:24PM
  • Drawing a link between discrediting of scientists and Ben Phillips 'rates' policy work is drawing a very long bow. Firstly economists are not scientists and Mr Phillips work is very political in nature as can be judged by his comments.

    It is very cute for Phillips to claim misrepresentation when the Government refuses to come clean and release its full proposed implementation of this policy. Only then can Canberra ratepayers be able to work out how they will be ultimately be affected and decide how equitable the so called reform is or not. My suspicion is that a lot of ratepayers will be hit harder than the Liberals 'triple rates' and the results will not be at all equitable with some wealthy Canberrans getting off fairly lightly while other less well off being hit hard.

    Commenter
    Ted47
    Location
    O'CONNOR
    Date and time
    November 29, 2012, 1:03PM
    • It is rubbish to say the Liberal policy is to discredit scientists and economists. How about naming a couple of genuine qualified scientists and economists the Liberals have discredited along with exactly what was said, where and when. Clearly Phillips changed his tune just after the election. Why ? It's a legitimate question. Give us names please of your scientists and economists instead of outrageous nonsense about Alan Jones and Lordless Moncton. Didn't think you could. Is someone like Gillard's Communication's John McTernan writing your lines for you? The only thing the Libs are demanding is to know exactly what the taxpayer gets for money paid to scientists and economists and why, for example, we need ten thousand new public servants in the Climate Change department when they don't appear to have achieved a damned thing so far apart from swallowing huge amounts of scarce cash. Why should they be exempt from proving their worth to ordinary taxpayers and rate payers when the public servants are the ones who benefit from centre left governments' largesse with our money.

      Commenter
      davey street
      Location
      hobart
      Date and time
      November 29, 2012, 1:31PM
      • Pretty typical of the Liberals to again be hiding behind Parliamentary privilege to be make their false accusations. We've seen this behavious adopted by their Federal counterparts and all it does it display to the public how weak and refutable their accusations are. If you have an accusation to make Zed, stand by your accusations and face the fire.

        Commenter
        Robinson
        Date and time
        November 29, 2012, 2:19PM
        • When in doubt shoot the messenger. Both sides do it. Wait and see what happens when the next lot of rates come out.

          Commenter
          Badger
          Location
          O'Connor
          Date and time
          November 29, 2012, 5:45PM
          Comments are now closed
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