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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 3 Hansard (10 March) . . Page.. 913..


DR FOSKEY (continuing):

this amendment to specifically rule out an agent from being considered under this discretion, but the issue of public interest that the commissioner needs to consider would, I am sure, rule out that use of the provision in any event. Furthermore, I argue that this debate would make it clear that the intention of the discretion is to support people entering the profession. Again, I have to admit that it seems clear that the government will not support these amendments; nonetheless, I thank the Assembly for the consideration.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (5.14): I thank Dr Foskey for an amendment that I think is far better than what there was originally. The adjournment enabled us to at least-and I understand the government has to do so-speak to Mr Ken Roberts of the real estate institute. It is because of that that, at this stage, we have a problem with some of this proposal, although I have great sympathy for what Dr Foskey is doing. I will come back to that in a minute.

I asked Mr Roberts a series of questions and, in the brief chance I had to talk to him, he indicated that he and the real estate institute were quite happy with the act at present; that a lot of work had gone into it; that it had only recently been revamped and that the institute did not want to see any change at this point in time. In relation to this matter, he also stressed to me that the institute wanted to ensure that the industry was as squeaky clean as you could get it. The question of honesty was a very significant factor because of agents going into people's homes and having possession of keys. Those are very valid points.

I also asked him whether anyone amongst the real estate fraternity had contacted the institute and asked for some changes, and he said no. The opposition is very mindful of that. With legislation, I think it is important or preferable, if possible, that the body which looks after agents, in this instance, is supportive of the change-or at least is saying, "We do not really think it is necessary, but we do not mind."

That being the case, I would be very happy to support this amendment today but, because the real estate institute did not want to see a change and Mr Roberts was quite specific on that, that certainly does cause us a problem. I would imagine that Dr Foskey might well be able to bring this proposal back at some later stage. Certainly, if there are real estate firms and agents out there who want to see some change along the lines of what she is suggesting, she could well and truly bring forward a private member's bill.

I, for one, would be very happy to recommend to my party that that be supported because I can see some benefit in what she is trying to do. She is trying to do two things, not just one. But at this stage, because of the lack of support from the institute, it would be difficult for us to pass it today. I think all the points in this debate have been well made to date by all speakers.

Getting to the specifics of what she has put forward, I indicated that I had considerable sympathy for it, and I still do. I think this version is better than the one we saw this morning. This version includes the definition of an offence, to take out of the equation those offences which involve fraud, which I think carry seven or 10 years, larceny and, I hope, armed robbery. Robbery is a crime of dishonesty as well as violence, but is the more serious, in terms of penalties, of the dishonesty offences. It allows for crimes under


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