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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 9 November 2021) . . Page.. 3155 ..


many in Canberra is that the dream of owning a home with a backyard in a leafy suburb, like those in my electorate of Ginninderra, is slipping away. No wonder I keep meeting people—young families—who have moved to Ginninderra who appreciate and admire the leafy and open space that is there.

I realise that the Labor-Greens government will blame interest rates and other federal tax policies for this, but of course that is not the only significant factor here. The most significant one is, as I read now, the Labor-Greens agenda of high-density housing and their drip feed of land for detached housing for the last decade. It has contributed to Canberra’s booming house prices. To top it off, the Labor-Greens oversupply of high-density housing and undersupply of detached housing has created a two-speed market where those who want to get into property ownership have often no choice but to buy a dwelling off the plan.

This brings me to the crux of the bill. I have been working on the bill since June, in consultation with members of the community and practitioners who are concerned for their clients’ financial wellbeing. From these reports there seems to be a very tiny minority of developers profiteering in our overheated market. There have been cases where a developer has rescinded contracts and immediately readvertised the property for up to $200,000 more than the original contract price. Alternatively, the original purchaser had been asked to pay significantly more to keep the contract on foot.

For many, this price increase is out of reach, leaving them without the home they thought they were purchasing, trying to buy in the current market, where their original deposit amount is not enough to help them secure another property. Also, many are missing out on the government’s stimulus and concession plans because they then have to resubmit a higher purchase price, if indeed they are able to keep their contract going.

Altogether, I think we would agree that it is a very unfair situation caused by a practice I would like to see come to an end. It is unconscionable conduct, and a legislative solution is appropriate. To achieve this, the bill I am introducing today requires a seller to obtain a buyer’s consent before ending an off-the-plan contract using a sunset clause. If both parties agree to the recission then the contract ends. But if the buyer does not agree, the seller can show cause for termination of the contract through the Supreme Court, if the Supreme Court deems a recission just and equitable in all other circumstances.

My bill also includes an ability for the minister to set regulations where a rescission would be deemed appropriate in certain circumstances. I would like to emphasise that this bill will not punish or impede those doing the right thing. The vast majority of developers value their reputation and have been honouring contracts with buyers, even in these unprecedented market conditions. The bill is about enhancing consumer protection and trying to ensure that home ownership remains open to as many people as possible.

Oddly, this morning the Attorney-General presented a bill which I have not yet had the chance to study in full, but I wish to express my real disappointment at the loss of some 100-plus purchases in the ACT in recent times through the malpractice of a


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