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The inclusion of ratchet and key money provisions in the Act would make it clear that the Act had the power to address these problems. Both the Labor Government and the Liberal Opposition chose, once again, not to take this action. The Assembly can feel quite proud of the fact that, as a result of action on the removal of ratchet clauses from leases entered into after 1 January 1994 and their removal from leases that are renewed pursuant to options, rentals for some small businesses have already gone down, according to reports coming to me. In those ways, for those leases that come under the Act, we have already achieved something. I think the long-term effect of the Act is actually beginning to show, but the Act still does not deal with those people caught in the middle. However, this part of the Act has actually saved some small businesses, in my understanding.
When constantly faced by small business people appealing for help the tribunal cannot give them, I wonder why this Assembly took such a short-sighted approach to the aspects of the Act which would have addressed these problems. I would like to have on record, Mr Speaker, any justification that any member here has for what is currently an appalling state of affairs. We had the opportunity to get it right and we blew it. I would like to challenge the Liberals in particular, as they are in government, and because they worked so hard to win the small business vote by saying, “Yes, we are going for small business”, emphasising the advantages for employment in the Territory and putting all the arguments they put, many of which I think all of us would accept and agree with. The challenge for them, now that we know that there are small businesses in trouble and we know how to fix the problem, is: What are you going to do?
MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General and Minister for Consumer Affairs) (4.19): Mr Speaker, it is an interesting question that Mr Moore posed as he ended his remarks. Let me say that the way we intend to fix it is, first of all, to conduct the review that we indicated should be conducted. At the end of the debate on this matter last year we said that a review of the operation of the Act should be conducted when it has operated for a reasonable period of time.
Mr Connolly: The review that we indicated would be done and set up.
MR HUMPHRIES: No. My party indicated that the review would be done after six months. I think your party indicated that it would be after 12 months.
Mr Connolly: We set up a review body.
MR HUMPHRIES: Maybe so, but our approach has been - and we said this in our election campaign commitments - that we would review the operation of the Act after six months. At this stage that is the position of the Government.
I turn to the question of how to resolve the issues that Mr Moore has raised. Those opposite can interject if they like, but the fact is that both the Liberal and Labor parties, as Mr Moore indicated, did indeed agree that there would be limited opportunity for this legislation to apply retrospectively to existing tenancies. In theory that is still the position that my party takes, although I will be very frank and say that I have had brought to my attention a number of cases of tenants having received certain treatment from a landlord. I consider some of the conduct that has come to my attention to be quite