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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 3 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 563 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

I am interested in Mr Rugendyke's comments and his foreshadowing of some sort of legislative response to how the credit industry is actually working. I am wondering whether the government has put any work into looking at unsolicited credit offers. When I go to the counter at the bank on occasions I am quite often asked whether I want to increase my home loan. This is unsolicited. I do not go there to do that; I go there to do a totally different transaction. This obviously is something that staff in the banks are being told to do to customers.

The Greens will not accept that there are no other remedies to the issues of concern here. We are very concerned to see the government being willing to weaken and undermine the Discrimination Act.

MR HUMPHRIES (Chief Minister, Minister for Community Affairs and Treasurer) (11.19): Mr Speaker, I think I can speak now in this debate even though I introduced the bill originally. If I cannot, I seek leave to do so.

MR SPEAKER: No, it's all right. I am advised that you can speak. It will be Mr Stefaniak who will close the debate. It is the officer rather than the person, Chief Minister.

MR HUMPHRIES: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I want to try to rebut some of the very foolish things that have been said in the course of this debate about what this legislation is all about. This is not the ACT government deciding that it is going to suddenly put the squeeze on little old ladies and young people in the community that we think should now be denied access to credit. Nobody would wish to see anybody denied access to money to do the things they want to do with their lives. But I think we would all want to make sure that credit was not provided in circumstances that were clearly and obviously inappropriate.

Mr Speaker, essentially that is what this bill is all about. It is not about restricting access to credit, but rather preventing inappropriate access and ensuring those who provide credit can provide it in circumstances where they are able to ensure that the person to whom they are lending is capable of repaying that money. It is not in the bank's interest or the building society's interest or the credit union's interest to lend that money in inappropriate circumstances. It is certainly not in the interest of those people in the community who are having money lent to them if they cannot repay it, and it is not in the broader interest of the community that that should be the case.

I am particularly surprised to hear Mr Rugendyke join in the criticism from some of those opposite because he has made a great point in the past of saying that people are being offered credit inappropriately in this community at the moment. And they are being offered credit, often too readily. What do we do about that? What we should do about that is make sure that people should not be offered credit in the first place if they are not in a position to repay the money.

Mr Rugendyke: So stop them doing it now.

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