Page 2350 - Week 07 - Thursday, 4 August 2022
to provide safe, clean, healthy homes, and that allow tenants who are paying a huge amount of money to have some security of tenure for their home, if these kinds of reforms are so scary to landlords, I say the same thing now in this place as a legislator that I have said for the last 12 years, as someone who worked for landlords: you should not be a landlord. You should sell your property. You should look at stocks, bonds, the market and other investments. Consider investing in renewable energy. The market is only going up there. You will make good money in solar panels.
It is not unreasonable for people, when they have excess capital, to seek to invest it—to protect themselves economically, protect their families and protect the people they love. Indeed, people in this very chamber have chosen to make those decisions. They are not unreasonable decisions, and they are not decisions that I would ask anybody not to make.
But with every right comes responsibilities. I just cannot fathom how it is so challenging for some in our community to see that when you invest excess capital above and beyond what you need to live a good life—assuming you have your own home, you have a secondary home on your books, and you are providing it to other people—with that comes some minimum expectations and obligations on you to provide good, safe, healthy homes for your tenants. It is so shocking to me that that is unreasonable!
It is also shocking to me that some nefarious characters in this debate have chosen to pretend that this has been something thrust upon them, as if it has been a surprise. The ACT Greens have been for decades leading the debate in this city and in this chamber on progressive tenancy reforms and on renters’ rights. Indeed we ran on a platform where we made it very clear to the Canberra community what our values were—that is, we thought every single Canberran deserved a home. That resulted in me and five of my colleagues sitting in this chamber. That suggests to me that most Canberrans share those values, share those views and want people in this place to do all that they can to protect tenants.
One thing that has quite concerned me—and it has actually motivated my need to speak today; after all, this is an exposure draft that has already had very deep consultation and will continue to have deep consultation, so we are only at a point in time on these reforms—relates to the very concerning emails that I have started to receive from constituents through the Real Estate Institute of the ACT. As someone who worked in the real estate industry for 12 years, it was my understanding that the Real Estate Institute of the ACT existed to represent the interests of licensed real estate agents, auctioneers and property managers. It would appear that they have chosen to take a pretty different tack, and now they seek to act as a lobby group for landlords. I want to pick up one line in the proforma email about which the mind boggled:
I understand the government provides over $500,000 of taxpayers’ money every year to fund an organisation that represents tenants with their disputes with landlords. However, not a solitary penny is provided to assist landlords.
Cry me a river! If you own more properties than the one that you need, not only the property you live in but your excess properties, your surplus properties, what a