Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 8 Hansard (3 August) . . Page.. 3320..
MR PRATT: I ask a supplementary question. Why did you fail to come clean about your actions on the evening of 17 January 2003 and the morning of 18 January 2003? Was your failure to warn the community in time a direct result of your lack of concern? Is your shyness about this issue the reason why your chief of staff, Mr Friedewald, told my senior staffer today, when she rang your office out of courtesy, to "Go and get ... "? The expletive has been deleted.
MR STANHOPE: No.
Real estate agents-licence fees
MRS CROSS: My question to the Chief Minister relates to the renewal of real estate agent licences. Chief Minister, on 28 July a constituent of mine received a letter from the ACT Office of Fair Trading advising that the constituent's real estate agent licence was now due for renewal and that the determined fee for renewal of the licence was $500, which, apart from being a dramatic increase in the $156 fee paid in 2003, was not the subject of any consultation or prior warning on the part of the ACT Office of Fair Trading. Chief Minister, why is it that a rise in agent licence fees of this order is decided and advised to agents by the ACT Office of Fair Trading without prior consultation or warning?
MR STANHOPE: I thank Mrs Cross for the question. At the end of each financial year the ACT government and, indeed, every ACT government agency review the full range of licence, application and other fees. It is something that happens every year and it has happened every year since 1989 when self-government was vested in the people of the ACT. It is a normal incident of business. On 1 July this year, hundreds of fees and charges and licence fees changed, as they did on 1 July last year, as they did on 1 July the year before-as they have done on 1 July for the last 15 years. Every year fees and charges across the board are reviewed and changed-every single one of them.
It is the case, Mrs Cross, that on 1 July this year I would hazard a guess that across the ACT somewhere between perhaps 500 and 1000 licence fees and charges changed. I guess it would be a matter of no surprise for me to suggest-and I would have to verify this-that not only did they change but also in fact every single one of them increased.
MRS CROSS: I thank the Chief Minister for his answer and I ask a supplementary question. Will this increase in fees of in excess of more than 300 per cent be standard practice annually without warning to or consultation with these businesses in the ACT?
MR STANHOPE: Mr Speaker, I will have to take some advice and look at the particular fee that Mrs Cross referred to. I cannot remember the detail of it. I know that I did approve an increase or a change in fees and charges across the board. In fact, during June, I approved an increase in probably 200 charges but I cannot remember the specific detail of each and every one of them. I am more than happy to have a look at that.
In relation to the real estate industry and the licensing of real estate agents, it needs to be acknowledged, Mrs Cross, that we have instituted a major new scheme in relation to the licensing of such agents, a scheme that was long negotiated with the industry and which has the full support of the industry. That came into effect on 1 July. There were some