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Commercial and Tenancy Tribunal Act 1994 . . Page.. 166 ..


Discussion of Matter of Public Importance

MR SPEAKER: I have received a letter from Mr Moore proposing that a matter of public importance be submitted to the Assembly for discussion, namely:

The failure of the Commercial and Tenancy Tribunal Act 1994 to resolve the problems between landlords and tenants in commercial rental properties in the ACT.

MR MOORE (4.06): Mr Speaker, in this first matter of public importance debate in the Third Assembly, I think it is appropriate that we deal with an issue that has plagued us for quite some time. You may well remember, Mr Speaker, that in the debate on the legislation last year and leading up to the legislation it was made clear that the original attempts at a Commercial and Tenancy Tribunal Act were made 20 years ago or beyond. Certainly, it is on record that in the House of Assembly - I think even before you were a member of the House of Assembly, Mr Speaker - attempts were made to get the Commonwealth to pass a commercial and tenancy Act but they failed.

Since 1972 arguments have been presented to successive Commonwealth and ACT governments on the need for legislation to protect commercial tenants from landlords who are unreasonable, greedy and downright dishonest. Many commercial tenants, having outlaid a great deal of money in setting up their small businesses and having spent many years building them up, were mercilessly deprived of their livelihood by profit-driven landlords. Mr Speaker, there is nothing wrong with landlords seeking profit. There are many landlords within the ACT who are indeed honest people and who rightly make a profit from their appropriate business. But I emphasise, Mr Speaker, that there has been example after example of greed by certain landlords bringing about a situation which is entirely inappropriate.

In 1994, prompted by a horrific public situation in Campbell, not to mention the fact that I had drafted and tabled a Bill myself, Mr Connolly finally took some steps to address this inequitable situation. You may remember that case at the Campbell shops, Mr Speaker. The landlord took a series of actions to ensure that the tenants were put in a situation where they were not able even to sell their businesses and in fact wound up just leaving. It happened first to the supermarket, then to the restaurant and then to the butcher. Quite recently, after the legislation had gone through, the situation occurred yet again when Arthur's fish and chips shop was forced to close. There are those of us who used Arthur's fish and chips shop constantly, especially on Friday nights, because we might struggle with our background. There is a certain conditioning that you just cannot get out of. I see Mr Osborne's eyes glowing. The hope of a relapse coming on is very interesting.

MR SPEAKER: I did not know that people were obliged to eat chips on Friday, Mr Moore.

MR MOORE: Thank you for your interjection, Mr Speaker. The question of chips is a question of conditioning. When someone has eaten chips with their fish on so many occasions, they cannot help thinking that on Friday night they want to have chips.

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