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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 3 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 566 ..

MR KAINE (continuing):

In terms of the repayment of the loan, a person of 25 or 30 can just as easily be killed in a car accident or be run over by a bus as a 75 or 80-year-old. Where is the certainty of getting the money back from a 25-year-old who is living beyond his or her means anyway and gets a massive loan on the strength of future earnings and then gets run over by a bus? There is no guarantee of return of the money. In fact, in that case the lender might have less certainty of getting it back than with a 75-year-old who has significant assets which can be relied upon for the recovery of the money at the end of the day. So the Chief Minister's argument is totally spurious.

I agree with Mr Rugendyke that there has been a bit of attention focused lately on the propensity for lending institutions to encourage people to borrow more and more, and I see it daily. In the last year I have probably received six or seven letters from different lending agencies asking me whether I want to increase the credit limit that I already have or whether I want a new credit card. Some of them know nothing about me. In some cases I am told that if I want a credit card or if I want to increase my existing credit limit it is already pre-approved. All I have to do is sign the dotted line and I get a new credit card or I get a new credit limit.

Some of the ones that offer me increased money have done no check on my financial situation for years. I have had credit cards for years and they have done no check, to my knowledge, since they gave me the credit card in the first place. So how would they know whether I am capable of meeting a higher level of credit? They don't. It is a concerted campaign to encourage people, regardless of age or economic circumstance, to go into debt and to take credit beyond, in many cases, their ability to repay, and it is the responsibility of the lending institutions. If they want to protect their investment it is their problem to make sure that the people that they lend money to are capable of repaying it. We should not be enacting legislation of this kind to protect a lending institution from its own stupidity. So, Mr Speaker, I am opposed to this legislation.

I have said many times in this place that every time this place enacts legislation it restricts somebody's rights. It restricts somebody's lifestyle. We never enact legislation that makes life easier for people. It is always to restrict. This is a classic case of restricting the ability of certain people in our community, or assisting in doing so, to borrow money when they need it. Mr Speaker, I think it is totally iniquitous and I find it astonishing that a Liberal government would be putting this sort of legislation forward.

Mr Rugendyke is right. Put the onus on the credit institutions to tighten up their procedures so that they guarantee their own investments. Why should we pass legislation to do it for them? It is totally in error. I will not support this legislation


(Minister for Education and Attorney-General) (11.32), in reply: I thank members for their comments. Mr Speaker, this amendment bill will allow credit providers to consider a person's age as a factor when assessing credit applications. Mr Rugendyke said he thought initially that it was all right. Then he thought there was something sinister here and he is going to bring in some legislation of his own. I look forward to seeing that. I agree with the Chief Minister, and probably with you, Mr Rugendyke, that credit can be far too easily available for people who do not have the capacity or the likely capacity to pay it too, so I look forward to that

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