Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 2 Hansard (10 March) . . Page.. 468 ..



position as they did not know whether they would be able to sell their house before the commencement date and thus not need a statement. They may have ended up spending the money to get a rating that they did not have to get if they sold the house before the commencement date.

I acknowledged this problem and prepared an amendment to provide that only houses that come onto the market after the commencement date required the rating. My office and the Parliamentary Counsel's Office went to some trouble to get these amendments done quickly for the debate on the Thursday. However, on that day the Minister said that the Government did not have enough time to consider my amendments. I did find this amazing as we often have to debate amendments that are tabled on the day of the debate, and the Government certainly expects other members to respond immediately to amendments that it tables at the last minute. In the end, I did not proceed with my amendments as it seemed like a waste of time.

I still believed, however, that there was scope to amend the Act before the commencement date at the end of March. I wrote to the Minister the following week to ask him to prepare a further Bill to incorporate the amendments suggested by the Law Society. I pointed out that this Bill would need to be tabled during the sitting week in February to allow sufficient time for its passing and gazettal before the end of March. I received a response from the Minister in the middle of January in which he agreed "that there is an opportunity to address any weaknesses in the Act by preparing a further amendment Bill". He also said that he intended "researching the options available to us in order to address these concerns". That gave me the impression that everything was under control, but I should not have been so confident. The February sitting period came and went and there was still no word about a further amendment Bill.

Officers of PALM then contacted me to arrange a meeting about the legislation on 24 February. "Good", I thought, "I will hear about the Bill the Government is preparing". I was in for a rude shock, Mr Speaker. At the meeting the PALM officers made the extraordinary statement - Mr Quinlan will enjoy this after his comments yesterday on resources - that they thought I should prepare the Bill as they were not able to prepare the Bill in time, that they had a resource problem and I would be able to do the job faster. Here was an admission that I would be able to do a better job with this legislation than the whole of PALM.

I replied that I was not happy about doing this work without some legal advice from the Government on the comments made by the Law Society. They said that they would get back to me with this advice. I have to say that I am glad that I did not wait for this advice as it was not until the middle of yesterday that my office got a phone call from a PALM officer providing some verbal comments on the Law Society's proposals. After the meeting with PALM I went ahead with getting drafted a Bill that covered the points where there seemed to be broad agreement on the need for amendments. I would like to express my thanks to the Parliamentary Counsel's Office for its quick response to my drafting request so that this Bill would be ready for today.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .