Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 13 Hansard (Wednesday, 1 December 2021) . . Page.. 3933 ..
It is worth noting that the scrutiny of bills committee asked that the minister respond to the committee’s comments on the bill prior to it being debated in the Assembly. The committee particularly noted that it was not clear whether delay events that occurred prior to the commencement of the bill—that being 9 November—extinguished a seller’s accrued right to rescind a contract. The retrospective application of the bill appears to remove a seller’s right to rescind a contract under those circumstances. The committee is also seeking clarification on whether the existence of broader circumstances, in conjunction with those prescribed in the bill, fall within the definition of a rescission provision.
I want to thank the minister for the briefing I received from his office and adviser on 18 November 2021. Regarding the power that will be granted to the minister to make a regulation, I recommend a higher level of consultation on such a regulation than has been commented on by member groups in the media, who were disappointed at the lack of consultation provided to them on the bill itself.
I welcome this bill. The Canberra Liberals will be supporting it. It is about consumer protection, protecting the more vulnerable party to an arrangement and ensuring that their opportunity to own what in many cases is their first home is not unfairly lost.
As the Attorney-General is aware, there is a class action at the moment involving dozens of individuals who have suffered loss because of this practice, by one developer in particular. There may be other instances. The Attorney-General may be more aware than I am of those.
I do want to mention a disappointment about this bill. It really is a disappointment about the timing of the presentation of this important consumer protection. As the Attorney-General is aware, in 2015, New South Wales saw this problem and fixed it. In 2019, Victoria saw this problem and fixed it. In between those times, in the ACT, the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal said that the incidence of such unfair practice should be investigated to see if law reform was required. I mention in particular the case of Tummala v Tiger Property Group Pty Ltd, handed down on 31 October 2016.
I want to read some names of people who have suffered unnecessary loss because of the slow action of the government, both in this term and in the previous Assembly. I do not have a list of all the names of those affected by this unfair practice, but those who have been brave enough to go forward to public media include Sheridan Burnett, Olga Zautner, Wasantha Davidlage, Reece Peart, Brayden Abbott, Mohammad Choudhury, Song Le, Kieran Hanchard, Brianna Eggleton, Canny Liu, Zhisong Qu, Cuiying He and Peter O’Dwyer. There are dozens more who have been unnecessarily injured and, in some cases, denied their first home—a home that they had saved for for so long.
I will finish with a quote from the Canberra Times from one of these individuals, Mr Abbott, speaking of the presentation of the bill:
It’s about time, I just wish that it had have happened earlier, so that there was something in Canberra to protect home buyers, especially first home buyers …