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for failure to deliver perfection for tenants in the ACT. At one stage, though, he did acknowledge that there had been a step forward. I think the legislation and the code were more than a step forward. People who have been around for a while - people like you, Mr Speaker, and Mr Hird, who were active in the old advisory House of Assembly - may recall that there were attempts to get protection for Canberra's commercial tenants as far back as the early 1970s. It is an issue that has been around for well over 20 years. Despite a lot of rhetoric from a lot of politicians and from a lot of parties, nothing happened.
The achievement of the Act and the code during the period I was responsible for consumer affairs is one of the things that I look back on as being among my significant achievements as Minister for consumer affairs and Attorney-General for this Territory. Not only did we finally get some protection, but we got protection that is acknowledged by tenant groups and by consumer groups and attacked by landlord groups as being the toughest, most pro-tenant code in Australia. So, it is a very significant step forward. Mr Moore says that the code does not go far enough. It was always an issue of compromise. There are issues that have to be balanced here. We did take the somewhat unusual step of retrospectively altering contractual rights and obligations. We took the code back to 1 January 1994, although it entered into force only in January 1995. For 12 months we went back and undid contractual arrangements. That is a fairly significant step for any legislature to take.
I welcome very much Mr Humphries's naming today of Lend Lease. I was concerned, from representations I have received in recent weeks, that there seemed to be a fairly disturbing toughening of landlord attitudes in the ACT, particularly centring around the Woden Plaza. I must say that my concern was that there are people in very senior administrative positions in the Liberal Party who throughout this debate earlier on had been advocates for the landlord and had been very loudly and strongly lobbying the Government at the time and saying, “There is no need for this code. It is a bad code. It will destroy business confidence”. They put the heavies on us, and I can imagine the heavies they would try to put on Mr Humphries as Liberal Minister. I welcome the fact that you have put a public warning out today in relation to Lend Lease's conduct. I recall statements that you made at the time and that I made at the time that if people played fast and loose with this they may find a toughening of attitude. That was certainly our intention in the review process. I welcome your remarks, and I welcome in particular your public identification of problems with Lend Lease. The ability of the responsible Minister of the day to name landlords, particularly the larger landlords, who are causing problems is a weapon that I am sure I never used lightly and I am sure Mr Humphries is not using lightly; but I welcome his statement on that.
It is important for the review that was always anticipated by the former Government to go ahead, and I welcome the fact that it will go ahead. It is, as always, a matter of balancing interests. The legislation presently in existence is the strongest in Australia; nonetheless, there may be room for improvement, and it is encouraging to hear that that improvement may take place. While acknowledging that Mr Moore has always been very strongly pro-tenant in this debate, I think it is unfair for him to say that this legislation has failed. It is unfair not to recognise that the package in place in the ACT is the strongest package in Australia.