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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 05 Hansard (Tuesday, 22 August 1995) . . Page.. 1254 ..


As a new jurisdiction, particularly a jurisdiction which all the time receives people from other parts of Australia as temporary or semi-temporary residents, we see great value in having a set of laws in this Territory which, to the greatest degree possible, conform with those of other parts of the country. There are, of course, always limitations to that principle; but in general it is better to have such laws. In the area of consumer credit, that is particularly important. People who provide credit very often operate in more than one jurisdiction. It adds to the cost of providing that credit when it cannot be provided in the same way in each jurisdiction. To bring down the cost to the consumer it is important, therefore, to have that capacity for uniform provisions.

I believe that in general the Government would say that it is appropriate to pursue such uniform provisions in areas where there is importance in having that uniformity, always reserving the right to withdraw from those arrangements or bury those arrangements where the Territory believes that the value of uniformity is outweighed by the harm to be done to individuals within the ACT. That will rarely be the case, but we ought to have that capacity to depart from those standards. If, for example - and I think there has been some comment by the Opposition about this in recent months - there were to be proposals for uniform gun control legislation at a standard lower than that which the ACT applied, I personally would find it difficult to accept a significant watering down of our arrangements, and the Territory would have to exercise the option of pulling away from the proposed uniform arrangements. That would not too often be the case. Sometimes we are quite proud and quite pleased to be different from other States. A number of Bills that have passed through this parliament in the last six years have provisions which are not matched anywhere else in the country, and we are probably quite pleased about that in some respects.

Mr Speaker, as I say, this legislation is significant, both for the agreement it represents among jurisdictions in this country and for the protection it will provide to consumers around this country and particularly in the ACT. It is a consumer credit package. It does not affect business credit, so we are not talking about significant changes in the world of high finance. We are talking now about protecting ordinary individuals for whom a contract to borrow money or to take out a mortgage amounts to a massive commitment which, in many cases, stays with them for much of their lives, sometimes all of their working lives. It is very important that we have a very fair set of rules to govern those arrangements and the taking on of that kind of credit. I thank members for their support, and I look forward to the rest of this package being in place to enact the framework by 1 March next year.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.


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