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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (29 August) . . Page.. 3700..


MS TUCKER (continuing):

have a pond, a park and housing over the road, whereas they now have a preschool, two primary schools and a high school.

There is obviously an understanding now that defined land needs to be administered and managed better. Lessons apparently have been learned. I am still concerned. I do not think planning would be such an onerous thing to manage without defined land. I think removal of defined land would bring more accountability. But I acknowledge that I do not have support for my bill.

Question resolved in the negative.

Fair Trading Bill 2001

Debate resumed from 2 May 2001, on motion by Mr Rugendyke:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education and Attorney-General) (9.59): Mr Deputy Speaker, the government is happy to support the Fair Trading Bill to the in-principle stage. We would actually be very happy to support it altogether but for problems with the national uniformity agreement and the national Consumer Credit Code. The bill in itself reflects sentiments which we certainly could not disagree with.

Under Mr Rugendyke's proposed amendments, a credit provider would be able to enter into a credit contract or increase the amount of credit available under an existing credit contract only after undertaking a satisfactory assessment of a person's capacity to repay the credit. The amendment would prevent a credit provider from issuing pre-approved credit limit documents to customers without first having undertaken a satisfactory assessment of their ability to pay. That seems to us eminently sensible. The examples he has given provide strong reason for state and territory governments to carefully consider how best these matters might be addressed. That is what they are doing; these matters are already progressing at an interstate level.

The ACT's continued participation in the uniformity agreement will mean the continued ability of the ACT to influence national debate on credit matters. More importantly, the ACT will continue to benefit from the introduction of new credit laws resulting from agreed amendments to the Uniform Consumer Credit Code.

I would like to emphasise my concern that credit providers, particularly the big banks, who are bound by the credit code, may not think it worth while to extend credit in the ACT if they have to substantially amend their national lending procedures to accommodate the ACT region. We are, after all, only 1.7 per cent of the Australian population. Moreover, this has great potential to increase compliance costs for credit providers, which would almost invariably be passed on to consumers. That would result in additional costs and delays-an additional imposition on ACT consumers-and I do not think that is something any of us want.

We are certainly not debating the benefits that would flow from Mr Rugendyke's bill. We think it is a good suggestion; it is one I raised at the consumer affairs ministers conference in July. Whilst they would not give me the two-thirds go-ahead to have the


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