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

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 3 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 560 ..

MR RUGENDYKE (continuing):

way to solve the problem is to pass legislation that makes it compulsory for all applications to be thoroughly assessed.

Last year I revealed that credit providers in the ACT were luring people into debt with unsolicited increases of up to more than three times the previous credit limit. The applications were mailed out, with the only requirement being that the customer has to sign a pre-approved form for the credit limit to be raised. My chief concern is that the credit providers are not assessing whether the consumer has the capacity to repay the increased credit limit. Neither are they checking to see whether the income of the customer has varied since the credit card was issued.

I would like to foreshadow to members that I am preparing a bill to correct the anomaly, and I expect to table it in the next sitting period. The age of the applicant is not the issue. The issue is whether the debtor conducts an appropriate assessment in all circumstances. At the moment this is not occurring.

Allowing credit providers to discriminate against age could have an adverse impact in that it could rule out people who genuinely have the means to repay the debt. What about a teenager who has been in the work force for a couple of years or someone who is over 65 and does have money behind them? They simply stand to be cut out of a right. I think the banks and other credit providers have a hide to ask the Assembly to discriminate against age when they are presently not adhering to their own codes of conduct by issuing pre-approved credit limits.

Mr Speaker, at first blush it appears that this is a good bill that makes it harder for young people to get a credit card. That would be a good thing. But, Mr Speaker, when you look deeper it is much more sinister. It is one factor that could tip credit providers over the edge to wipe out and not approve people who require a loan. I will be opposing this bill.

MS TUCKER (11:10): The Greens also will be opposing this bill. This is an attempt to give credit agencies legal certainty to refuse loans or to put conditions on loans when they have considered age as one of the factors. It could affect older or younger people. It just depends on the loan agency having actuarial or other statistical data that shows that a particular age group presents a greater risk of failing to repay the loan.

The questions for the Greens in assessing this bill were, firstly, what is the need being addressed here; secondly, is this an appropriate way to address this need; and thirdly, what secondary effects will we feel by amending the Discrimination Act?

Mr Moore accused Mr Stanhope of using rhetoric. I was interested because we obviously consulted quite broadly on this. We talked to people who work in the sector. COTA, the youth sector and the Discrimination Commissioner had concerns. The CARE financial counselling people also had concerns. Obviously they have the interests of the client group in mind when they give a view. So this is pretty much a Liberal ideological piece of legislation once again, which Mr Moore, unfortunately, was coopted into.

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