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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 06 Hansard (Tuesday, 5 June 2018) . . Page.. 1993 ..

and to ensure that they are eligible. They can also go directly to Housing ACT at Emu Bank in Belconnen or they can call the OneLink phone number 1800 176 468. On the Community Services website for the rental bond loans there are about four phone numbers for people who want to get advice on a rental bond loan, for people for whom English is a second language or for people who are deaf or hearing impaired to get support as well when they are making those applications. Changes like these are part of ongoing reform to make housing more affordable, secure and accessible for more people in our community.

The government is continuing its important work with the community, building and development sectors towards the development of a new housing strategy. The government has done extensive consultation with the Canberra community in the development of the strategy, including last year’s housing and homelessness summit. While the strategy is due to be finalised later this year, early initiatives to improve affordable housing options are already underway. These include the new affordable public and community housing targets, the affordable home purchase database and the $1 million innovation fund, with its year 1 projects to be announced soon. I look forward to releasing the new strategy. Every step that we take in this chamber will help address the broader challenges out there in our community.

MR RAMSAY (Ginninderra—Attorney-General, Minister for Regulatory Services, Minister for the Arts and Community Events and Minister for Veterans and Seniors) (11.34), in reply: I am very pleased to speak in support of the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill 2018. I table a revised explanatory statement which provides details about how the provisions in relation to the commercial guarantees in this bill will operate.

I thank members for their contributions, even though it did become apparent during the debate that the Canberra Liberals have not truly come to grips with the intent, the background or the effect of the legislation. What this bill provides is fairer outcomes for vulnerable people. It does this through changing the processes for managing rental arrears and by ensuring that the government has sufficient time to carefully consider and regulate new products that are offered to renters. This government is committed to making sure that vulnerable people in our community have the protections that they need in the rental market.

As the Deputy Chief Minister outlined, she is currently developing a new housing strategy for the ACT. The focus of that strategy will be on assisting those who need help the most: people who are experiencing homelessness and low income households in housing stress.

The first set of amendments in this bill deals with commercial guarantees. Commercial guarantee products are new in the Australian rental market and the idea behind them is that, instead of saving for a bond, a tenant can pay a smaller monthly fee to a private company that guarantees payment to lessors. Innovation, however, cannot happen at the expense of our most vulnerable people. This is a product that by its very nature is going to be marketed to people who cannot afford a bond. And that means that there needs to be a clear role for a strong consumer protection framework.

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