Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (24 March) . . Page.. 792 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
Paragraph (1)(b), omit the paragraph, substitute the following paragraph:
"(b) introduces to the Assembly legislation to provide protection of tenants' rights, specific to the needs of long term caravan park residents and the Assembly has considered such legislation.".
MR KAINE (5.10): From my perspective, I do not know whether it is important for the Government to be in the long-term caravan park business or not. The Minister says that it is not core business, but that is not necessarily enough justification in itself for changing the status quo. The fact is that the Government is in the business of long-stay caravan parks. It has been there for some years. If the Government wishes to change that position, they would have to satisfy me of the merits of the case, on two counts.
The first is that there is some benefit to the Government and the community by making the change. That would mean that the Government would need to demonstrate to me that there is some net reduction in costs or some financial advantage to the Government in getting out of the long-term caravan park business. I do not know how they would demonstrate in what ways they would benefit financially from selling it off. It may get a bit of money in the bank, but there might be many things that would run counter to that, so there may not necessarily be any net financial benefit to the Government in the longer term from selling it. I would need to be satisfied of the financial and other benefits.
That is one of the points that Mr Wood brought out in this motion. He wants to know the cost and benefits of the current operation. I would like to see also the potential costs and benefits of a changed position - not just the current position but what the costs and benefits would be if the ownership changed, because only then could you see whether it was in the community interest in the long term to make the change or whether it was not. That is the first thing I would want to see.
The second thing I would want to see is the kind of thing envisaged in subparagraph 1(b) of Mr Wood's motion, which Ms Tucker is trying to make a bit more positive. The fact is that some of the tenants of this long-stay caravan park have been there for a long time. The question in my mind is: If we sold that establishment and the new owner decided to turn the land to something else, where would the current tenants go? What options do they have available to them? I do not know of too many other places in Canberra where somebody could move their substantial caravan and set it up under anything like the terms that they enjoy at the existing long-stay caravan park at Narrabundah. Perhaps the Minister can outline at some stage what he sees as the alternative options for existing tenants. In any case, whether or not he can demonstrate that there are other readily available places to which these tenants could move, I think that the tenants are entitled to some consideration. They do have rights. They are long-term tenants.
As I said, I have no particular philosophical position on whether the Government should be in the long-stay caravan park business or whether it should not. I note Mr Wood's comments that local governments elsewhere do have such caravan parks. That is fine.