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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 10 Hansard (6 December) . . Page.. 2735 ..

Tenancy Tribunal

MS TUCKER: My question is directed to Mr Humphries, the Minister for Consumer Affairs. It is in relation to the Tenancy Tribunal. I did give Mr Humphries some notice of this question. What record do the staff of the tribunal keep of personal phone and letter inquiries into commercial and retail tenancy problems or the code of practice? What are the follow-up and feedback procedures?

MR HUMPHRIES: I thank Ms Tucker for the question and for the notice of the question. There are a number of inquiries received every day by the Tenancy Tribunal staff concerning problems to do with tenancy. Some of those are hypothetical questions or questions that do not leave any detail about where the tenancy might be or who is seeking the particular piece of information. For those sorts of inquiries there are no accurate records kept. In a sense, they are requests for information in a general sense. For those who actually say, "I have a dispute and I want help", records are kept. A file is opened in the tribunal registry for those matters. The person is then invited to come into the registry to discuss with the registrar, or some other officer of the tribunal, the issues concerned and talk about a process of resolving the matter. Members will be aware that the Tenancy Tribunal Act actually contains provisions for attempted negotiation and mediation of disputes before they are referred to the tribunal for a more formal resolution process. This is what the tribunal immediately attempts to do. The registrar is empowered to embark on a process of attempting mediation between the parties.

If there are not any successful outcomes in those circumstances, the matter is referred formally - assuming an application is formally lodged - to the tribunal for a decision. A small number of cases have been dealt with by the tribunal so far. At the present time there are 35 files opened in the Tenancy Tribunal, which would represent, since the beginning of this year, the number of people who have indicated that they wished to proceed with a matter or have other formal or informal resolution of their problem by the Tenancy Tribunal.

MS TUCKER: I have a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. Thank you, Minister, for the answer. Would it be possible for you to table - not the details, obviously - some kind of list of those inquiries that have come in? I am interested to know the hypothetical matters that you referred to. There is concern about the efficacy of the code of practice at the moment. It would be interesting to see which ones were not able to receive assistance. For the purpose of future evaluation, would the Minister be prepared to look at some way of recording those hypothetical questions as well?

MR HUMPHRIES: One of the issues that Ms Tucker is raising is the question of the extent to which the jurisdiction of the tribunal might be limiting people's access to help from the tribunal, particularly the question of retrospectivity. That is a good question. It is an issue that we need to look at. I will ask the tribunal registry to prepare a list of those matters which are presently before the tribunal, without giving any information that would identify the case, if that is possible. It would give some impression of the nature of

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