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

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 2 Hansard (1 March) . . Page.. 514 ..

MR RUGENDYKE (continuing):

I am far from convinced that taking disputes to the Magistrates Court will improve the situation. I am quite certain that it would worsen the situation under the government bill as it stands. Surely enhancing the established and specialised tribunal would be the most desirable and practical approach.

The opposition's deputy leader, Mr Quinlan, has publicly acknowledged the imbalance of power that landlords hold over small business owners. My bill is the perfect opportunity for him to demonstrate his support for small business. Last year Mr Quinlan issued a media release which referred to cases where "small businesses have been taken close to the brink, if not to the wall, purely because of an imbalance in negotiating power". If the opposition follows the government bill in this debate, it will desert small business and also pander to the top end of town. I have presented the opposition with a genuine opportunity to take a stand for the small business community and to fix the glaring inadequacies which Labor recognises exist under present laws. I truly hope that the opposition does level the playing field and proves that it has a serious commitment to small business. It would be a sad reflection on the major parties if they failed to protect small business owners in the ACT.

I would also like to take this opportunity to remind members about the approach taken by the Property Council in this debate. We all know that the Property Council sits in the government's hip pocket, and I would be deeply disappointed if the opposition similarly bowed to their wishes.

The Property Council, which represents the major landlords such as those in shopping malls, circulated a highly questionable legal advice in an attempt to convince MLAs to oppose my bill. Subsequent opinion from Mr Alvin Hopper, the principal assistant legislative counsel at ACT Parliamentary Counsel, described the Property Council's analysis as tendentious and unconvincing. The Property Council has been attempting to sabotage my small business initiatives since August 1999, nine months before the bill was tabled. The Property Council, in a newsletter in 1999, urged their members to "do what they can to ensure that amendments proposed by David Rugendyke are defeated". This was nine months before the bill was tabled, before they had even sighted my proposed legislation.

Obviously, doing whatever they can included distributing extremely dubious legal advice. The opinion I have received from Mr Hopper, who is highly regarded and a published authority in this field, unreservedly dismisses the Property Council's claims on unjust acquisition and says the assertions should be treated with considerable reserve. Mr Hopper has described the bulk of the Property Council's advice as biased, and Assembly members should be made aware that these are the lengths the Property Council have gone to so that they can preserve the present imbalance of power.

I urge my Assembly colleagues to vote down the government bill at the in-principle stage and direct their support to endorsing my bill.


(Minister for Education and Attorney-General) (4.55): The government will not be supporting Mr Rugendyke's bill. I will mention a few matters that Mr Stanhope and other speakers have raised. Mr Stanhope's first two minutes were amazing. My party might like to swap you there. Jon, I think you make a lot more money

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