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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 3812 ..

MR OSBORNE (continuing):

The Government has particularly taken issue with recommendation 6 of the report, which addresses the issue of funding a regulatory scheme. The Government has estimated the annual cost of the legislation to be in the vicinity of $100,000, which, if applied in full to the employment agent industry, would be an impost of over $1,000 for each agent.

The committee did not formally dispute the Government's costing. However, we have noted our surprise at the suggested high costs for the administration of this legislation. The Government does not seem to have made much allowance for economies of scale, which could be expected, given that the Agents Board already operates successfully. However, the committee did agree that a $1,000 annual fee imposed by the Government would be unjustifiable and have recommended a $100 registration fee and an annual fee of $100, as is the case for similar schemes which operate in New South Wales. Since these fee levels would not enable self-funding, the Government will need to make an annual funding commitment to the scheme. While the Government believes that the scheme as a whole would be a waste of money, the committee does not.

Personally, during this inquiry, I found the use of the term "generally unemployed" rather odd. I am sure that those who use this term in a derogatory sense have themselves never been unemployed. Unemployment, for most people, is nothing less than a demeaning experience, as personal self-confidence is under threat. Household bills are not paid, and families are put under extreme stress. The unemployed are at a vulnerable point in their lives. This legislation provides for a scheme that would give them protection from potential exploitation as they seek to re-establish their lives.

The majority of the committee believes that this is a worthy piece of legislation that should be supported.

MR HIRD (11.52): On this occasion, rare as it may be, I will be dissenting from my colleagues on the committee. The committee does a lot of fine work. The best we can say is that we try to get agreement, but on this issue I could not reach an agreement with my colleagues. The Agents Act 1968 currently provides for the licensing and supervision of real estate, stock and station, travel and business agents in the Territory. It provides for the definition, required qualifications and provision of licences to agents; for the establishment of an Agents Board, a Registrar and inspectors; for the keeping of records; for procedures for investigation of complaints against agents; for the surrender of licences; and for inquiries by the Agents Board.

The committee's inquiry was advertised in the local media in September of this year, and the committee also directly invited relevant organisations to make submissions. The Department of Justice and Community Safety also wrote directly to each of the 73 employment agencies in the Territory advising them of the inquiry and inviting them to make submissions. Unfortunately, only three submissions were received - one from a community-based employment agency; one from ACTCOSS, who strongly supported the Bill; and one from the Government, who strongly opposed the Bill. The committee

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