Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 23 September 2010) . . Page.. 4433 ..
whose true impact is talked down in speeches and explanatory memoranda. That is what has happened here, and I consider it to be dishonest.
Therefore the Liberal opposition will not be supporting amendments to the Supreme Court Act on this occasion. This does not say that we are not open to these amendments, but I think, and my colleagues agree, that these amendments should be brought forward in a substantive bill, introduced with time to draw them to the attention of the practitioners, in particular, who will be affected by them.
I thank Mr Rattenbury for his openness in this. I raised this with Mr Rattenbury. The exchanges between Mr Rattenbury’s office and the Attorney-General’s office do not improve the situation. That reinforces my contention that these are not simple and straightforward matters—that they are changes of some substance. They are not minor and technical. The explanations and the undertakings given by the Attorney-General’s office to Mr Rattenbury’s office only reinforce that.
The amendments to this part of the bill are neither minor nor technical; they are substantive in nature. This is a matter that has been confirmed by the concerns raised by the scrutiny of bills committee. The government and the Attorney-General once again have flouted the Assembly’s will in relation to the purpose and use of omnibus bills. It is time that this government and this Attorney-General sat down and took a long, hard look at all the elements of omnibus legislation to ensure that the spirit and the intent of that resolution, and the longstanding practice in this place, are not flouted. In fact, they should be honoured and upheld on all occasions.
MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (12.15): The Greens will be supporting this bill today. It makes a range of important but, we believe, non-controversial changes to keep the ACT statute book up to date and relevant.
The bill finalises the handover of responsibility for regulating consumer credit providers. The commonwealth assumed responsibility from the states and territories for licensing credit providers on 1 July this year. To finalise this process, a number of ACT acts need to be repealed or amended. The Greens support the move to regulate consumer credit providers at a national level. The move reduces duplication across the states and territories and increases efficiency. On 1 July, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, ASIC, took on the key regulatory role. As Australia’s corporate, markets and financial services regulator, ASIC is best placed to regulate credit providers, we believe.
However, the Greens do note that one key aspect of the existing ACT credit laws will be retained until stage 2 of the commonwealth reforms catches up. Currently the ACT law sets the maximum annual interest rate that a credit provider can charge. The maximum rate is 48 per cent per annum. This section of the ACT law gives particular protection to people entering short-term credit contracts. However, it will not be until stage 2 of the commonwealth reforms takes place in the future that ASIC will take on that power to regulate this area of consumer credit. To ensure continued protection for the people of the ACT, this JACS bill does the appropriate thing and retains those specific parts of the ACT scheme. We support that approach.