Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2012 Week 7 Hansard (6 June) . . Page.. 2670..
Forums were organised at which key stakeholders were invited to comment. Some bodies and individuals also commented in writing upon the exposure draft and many more called into my office to share their experiences and opinions. The outcome of this consultation was broad support from interested parties for legislation to govern retirement villages, though there was some disagreement on the exact operation of the provisions.
When I tabled the 2011 bill, this acted as a prompt for a number of interested parties who had not previously spoken to contact my office. These parties identified a number of issues which had not previously been raised with me. Additionally, representations with more extensive commentary were also submitted by those who had previously made submissions. On the basis of this additional information, I made the decision to table a new bill which is strongly rooted in the legislation in place across the border in New South Wales.
To be clear, the reason for this new bill is community consultation. I have listened to the concerns of all stakeholders and they are fully supportive of this direction. This is the bill that meets the needs of the industry, the residents and the peak bodies.
So that members can understand how this bill differs from the Retirement Villages Bill 2011, I will speak on some of the key differences between the two bills. The 2011 bill provides that the Commissioner for Fair Trading will register villages and will discharge a number of related regulatory functions. In contrast, this bill provides that the operators of the village enter their details on land title records and for negative licensing. This means that the responsibilities of regulatory bodies are more limited.
The 2011 bill emphasised a criminal approach to enforcement. This bill focuses on civil redress, coupled with regulatory enforcement, where necessary. Again, this reduces the regulatory burden and also reduces the duplication of costs.
The 2011 bill does not make provision for the prescription of standard form contracts in the retirement village sector. This bill does. This is particularly important, given the initiative in New South Wales to introduce a standard form of contract which will facilitate great comparability between villages. This is important as currently prospective residents have a great difficulty in comparing products.
The 2011 bill does not provide for village rules. This bill does. For those who are unaware, the village rules allow for villages to agree to a set of rules to govern the day-to-day running of the retirement village and its facilities. From my consultation, I know that village rules are very important to residents and in many cases make the life of the village manager much easier. The 2011 bill does not deal consistently with residential contracts where there is a property interest and where there is no property interest. This bill clearly distinguishes between these types of interests.
This bill replaces the restrictive trust system of the 2011 bill with a more simple financial system which ensures that residents are properly protected. The 21-day cooling-off period of the 2011 bill has been replaced with a seven-day cooling-off period in this bill. The reason for this is that considerable concern was expressed