Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (24 March) . . Page.. 790 ..
MR WOOD (continuing):
I hope that we can have a greater input into this decision. It may be that someone has suggested to the Government that the park can be sold for a bit of money in our tough budgetary times, but no further thought was given to the matter. Let us give that thought. Let us think about this and let us look after the people and see that their home is protected. It is most important to do so.
MS TUCKER (5.03): The Greens support this motion, and I have circulated an amendment to the motion which I will move in a minute to include a requirement that the Government not sell the caravan park until there is legislative protection in place for the residents. I was very concerned to hear Mr Smyth yesterday, in answer to my question at question time, say he was not aware of the Law Reform Commission's discussion paper on the matter. But, even not knowing the issues, not knowing of the paper, he was able to state clearly in question time that he still knew it was not a reason to delay sale, because it is not part of his core business. Talk about passing the buck!
I would like to know what gets talked about in Cabinet. Does Mr Humphries know what Mr Smyth is doing in this area? It is his business to ensure that the rights of ACT tenants and landlords are protected. I would have thought that in such a small Cabinet it would not be too difficult to know when something impacts on the core business of another Minister. In fact, I would have thought that there would be a willingness and a desire to see whether that was the case. But no. It is public policy on the run, public policy without regard for the implications for ACT residents. Why is it irrelevant, Mr Smyth? Why does it not matter that the current residents will have less protection if the park is sold? Do you not think you have a responsibility to ensure the best possible outcome for current residents, whose lives have without notice suddenly been subjected to uncertainty?
People who live in caravan parks and relocatable homes have the same rights of protection through legislation as other residents and tenants in the ACT. In the Law Reform Commission report No. 8, "Private Residential Tenancy Law", legislative coverage of caravan parks and relocatable homes was recommended. The then Landlord and Tenant Act had limited application to caravans and moveable homes, and the matter was not addressed in the Residential Tenancies Act, which was passed in 1997. There are obviously particular characteristics of this type of accommodation which need to be taken into account in designing legislation. The mobility of residents is one such matter, but there is an increase in long-term residency in Australia generally. Between 1981 and 1985 long-term residency increased by 53 per cent, and between 1986 and 1989 it increased by 52 per cent. While there is legislation in most places regarding facilities and standards in caravan parks, only a few States have legislation on tenancy.
According to the Law Reform Commission, the Narrabundah long-stay caravan park is regulated to a degree by the long-stay caravan park assistance program gazetted under the Housing Assistance Act 1987, which gives some rights in relation to site allocation, transfers and frequency of rent increases. If the park is sold, it is obviously arguable that there will be a diminishing of the rights and protection afforded to the current residents. This should be, and must be, a matter of interest to this Government before they sell this park.