Page 5597 - Week 17 - Thursday, 5 December 1991

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Thursday, 5 December 1991


MR SPEAKER (Mr Prowse) took the chair at 10.30 am and read the prayer.


MS FOLLETT (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (10.31): I present the Agents (Amendment) Bill 1991. I move:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

The Agents (Amendment) Bill 1991 represents the culmination of extensive work within the industry and government. The Bill amends the Agents Act 1968, which provides for the licensing and registration of real estate, business, stock and station and travel agents. The present law does not provide protection to persons who suffer a pecuniary loss as a result of the failure of a licensed real estate agent, business or stock and station agent to account for trust moneys or property received.

This Bill will provide protection in respect of licensed agents through the creation of a fidelity guarantee fund. It will not apply to travel agents, who are already protected by a national compensation scheme. The fidelity guarantee fund will meet claims for actual loss suffered by a client, less any amount recovered or recoverable from a source other than the fund. There will be no statutory limit on the amount payable in respect of any one incident of a failure to account. This will ensure that all clients will be treated equitably. At present all licensed real estate, business and stock and station agents are required to hold clients' moneys in a trust account at a bank operating in the ACT. These trust accounts do not earn interest.

Subject to this new legislation, the banks have agreed to pay interest on these trust accounts which, together with agents' licence, registration and administration fees, excluding those relating to travel agents, will form the income base for the fidelity guarantee fund. The fidelity guarantee fund will be administered by the Agents Board of the ACT, which is responsible for the administration of the Agents Act 1968. The fund will meet the cost of administering the Agents Act as it applies to the operation and the licensing and registration of real estate, business and stock and station agents.

Sufficient moneys will be allowed to accumulate to a level that will enable the fund's compensation obligations under the Act to be met. Any remaining funds will, subject to

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