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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 2 Hansard (1 March) . . Page.. 511 ..

MR MOORE (Minister for Health, Housing and Community Services) (4.37): In rising to support the government bill in principle, as I would presume most people do, I think it is worth making a few comments. On this legislation I have stood aside from cabinet and not discussed any detail with either Mr Stefaniak, who now has carriage of the bill, or the Chief Minister when he had carriage of this legislation.

I find myself in some difficulty. Mr Rugendyke was aware that I had put up legislation not dissimilar in general principle and thrust to the legislation that he has put up. Therefore, I am very keen about achieving the sorts of outcomes he has set out. The thing that concerns me most is the process that the bill has been through and what we do to process. A huge consultative process established the position of the legislation that the government has put forward. That process was about compromise. It was about bringing the landlords together with the tenants in an attempt to try to achieve an outcome people had worked together on. Under those circumstances you are never going to get full agreement, so people seek to make compromises.

For us to interfere with those compromises is something I have some difficulty with. I am aware that some argue-it was in the CARTA newsletter, for example-that the tenants' views were often recorded when they lost what was effectively a vote. There is in the government's legislation a significant improvement in what we had. On the other hand, the approach of Mr Rugendyke would significantly improve tenants' rights. There is always a tension between the commercial prerogative of a landlord and the commercial prerogative of tenants. We still do not have that balance right.

I will be supporting both pieces of legislation. I support what Mr Rugendyke is trying to achieve. However, I will be looking at each of the amendments in turn to try to determine what is the most effective way to deliver tenants' rights without totally undermining the process that went on. It is a very difficult balancing act, as everybody in this Assembly has found. I know that members have had meetings. I was invited to those meetings but unfortunately had prior and more pressing commitments. For that reason I will be listening carefully to the argument put on each of the amendments to see whether I can get as consistent an approach as possible.

MR RUGENDYKE (4.41): It is important to remind members of the fundamental difference between the government's bill and my bill. When a choice is made between both bills, the issue of jurisdiction is set in concrete. The government bill repeals the Tenancy Tribunal Act 1994. The dispute forum therefore becomes the Magistrates Court, with appeal to the Supreme Court.

Imagine a scenario where a tenant has a dispute with a landlord. The dispute is heard in the Magistrates Court. The landlord allows the process to flow, irrespective of the length of time, with his arms simply folded. The tenant has a win. The landlord then appeals the decision to the Supreme Court, which incidentally he can do on a error of law or an issue of fact. How many small business operators do you think would be able to survive that process without going broke, as many have done?

My bill maintains, streamlines and enhances the role of the Tenancy Tribunal, a forum that gives small business a fair go. The key elements of my bill include:

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