Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 3 Hansard (10 March) . . Page.. 858..
DR FOSKEY (continuing):
the time, which means that they do not pay attention to the details of their case. Nonetheless, they can be prosecuted for fraud and, as is common in that situation, plead guilty without advice just to get it over and done with.
Five years later, following some education and training, they can find that that conviction for dishonesty rules out any chance of becoming a real estate sales person. Under this legislation, there is no opportunity for any discretion. I consider it preferable that the commissioner, in judging the disqualification not to be in the public interest, given it was a minor offence committed five years ago, allow the registration to proceed. That decision could then be appealed to the Consumer and Trader Tribunal if it was considered to be too generous.
I would like to make it clear that I sought, through my office, to negotiate with the government on the details of where the line of discretion might be drawn. However, we were advised the government would not support the amendments, so we have not proceeded to the level of detail to define the appropriate level of the offence more carefully.
I am putting that on the record to make it clear that the issue is one of introducing some discretion, not about precisely where we have drawn the line. We are of the view that it is possible to provide some guidance to the commissioner to exercise discretion, ahead of the 10-year threshold of the spent conviction scheme. Unfortunately, the government has indicated that it does not share that view.
MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra-Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Arts, Heritage and Indigenous Affairs) (11.38): Mr Speaker, as I indicated, the government does not support the amendment to the Agents Act proposed by the Greens.
MR SPEAKER: I intervene to remind you that you are able to speak to both of them.
MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Mr Speaker. The proposed amendment reads:
(1A) However, the commissioner for fair trading may decide that a person is not disqualified from being licensed only because subsection (1) (a) applies to the person if-
(a) the conviction happened more than 5 years before the day the person made an application under section 29; and
(b) the person has not been convicted of any offence for 5 years before the day the person made the application; and
(c) the commissioner is satisfied that the disqualification is not in the public interest.
Dr Foskey, in supporting her amendment, advances the argument that really what she is doing is providing the commissioner with discretion in relation to disqualification. But what the provision essentially does is provide an amendment to the Spent Convictions Act 2000.
The Spent Convictions Act provides, in relation to an offence of the sort that would lead to the disqualification, that the person cannot be re-employed within that profession within 10 years. Dr Foskey is essentially seeking, through the Agents Act, to amend the