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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 3 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 565 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

I think the offer of credit in this community, frankly, is too great at the moment. I think too many people are getting access to credit who should not be having that access, and today, Mr Speaker, we are facilitating the continuation of that-

Mr Rugendyke: So fix it properly.

MR HUMPHRIES: We are facilitating the continuation of that in this particular case. We are refusing to allow objective information about the position of people in the community who might seek such loans to be taken into account when they front the bank manager or officer to obtain that loan, and that is irresponsible, Mr Speaker. I can see people in this place coming back at some later stage and complaining about people who are in over their heads, people who have got into deep water and are in so much trouble et cetera, et cetera, but they have not taken the step today to do something about that, and in my view that is irresponsible.

MR KAINE (11.25): Mr Speaker, I am opposed to this bill, and the Chief Minister's speech just then did not convince me one bit that I should change my view.

The Chief Minister says that this bill is not discriminating against little old ladies. Well, in fact, Mr Speaker, it is. It is discriminating against people simply on the basis of age. There is no need for it. In fact, the legislation is wide open anyway because the bill proposes that the criteria for refusal, or the terms imposed, are based on actuarial or statistical data on which it is reasonable for the credit provider to rely, or, if there is no such data, on other data on which it is reasonable to rely. The word "reasonable" is used several times, so we are leaving it to the credit provider to determine what is reasonable. So the bill in no way addresses the question of whether an older person or an extremely young person should be given credit or not.

In fact, Mr Speaker, this particular provision ought not be necessary because the Chief Minister, when he tabled this bill a year ago, listed in his tabling speech the relevant factors that a credit provider should take into account when determining whether to make a loan or not. He said that some of these factors-so there were clearly others-which come into play are income level, employment stability, domicile, number of dependants, credit and savings history, and assets and liabilities. Those are the things that a credit provider should take into account in determining whether to lend money or not, not whether you are aged 20 or 75. If those factors are properly taken into account by the credit provider, a person of 75, if he or she matches all these criteria, is just as entitled to a loan as is a 25-year-old in employment with no dependants and paying off his own house.

Why is age considered by the Chief Minister to be a relevant criteria? It is not. The Chief Minister just then tried to explain it by saying, "Oh well, the credit provider cannot be sure that they will get their money back." Well, they can. If they properly consider the person's income level, credit and savings history, and assets and liabilities they can know absolutely whether, if the person is to trip over a step and die this morning, they are going to get their money back, just as they can with a 20-year-old, or a 30-year-old or a 40-year-old. I repeat, Mr Speaker, that age is no criterion and ought in no way reflect on a person's eligibility and qualification for a loan.

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