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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 3 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 638 ..

That would contribute uncertainly to the relationship between landlord and tenant and is unnecessary. Mr Rugendyke has not explained why a tenant should be able, unilaterally, to in effect reopen the term of their lease to provide for that kind of right, particularly when they already had a clear indication of what their legal position was before they entered into that lease. It would be unwise to support this amendment.

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (5.55): The Labor Party will not be supporting this amendment, on the same grounds as articulated by the Chief Minister. In our consideration of every clause of this bill we have been mindful of the rights of tenants and the need for tenants to be protected in recognition of what we regard as a very obvious difference that exists in economic and bargaining power. But at some point it is only reasonable that we look at the nature of the relationship between landlords and tenants and say that tenants need to accept responsibility for decisions they take, despite our overwhelming desire to protect them and to support them to the greatest extent possible.

The assumption that underlies the desire to remove paragraph (b) is that, no matter what a tenant or a landlord negotiate between them at any stage, the tenant is always entitled to a five-year lease. The assumption is that, no matter what advice you take before you enter into an arrangement, no matter what decision you make, no matter what agreement you come to with the landlord, as a tenant you should be entitled to say, "Yes, I did go to a solicitor, and the solicitor did tell me of the consequences of taking the action I took, but I have this inalienable right to a five-year lease, despite the fact that I have just signed up for a six-month lease and I did it with my eyes open and on the basis of legal advice."

We are really stretching things a little bit too far to suggest that a tenant, even in circumstances where he gets legal advice and as a result of that legal advice does or does not do something, and irrespective of the decision that he then takes, can say, "It no longer suits me to have a six-month lease. I would now like a five-year leases, even though I entered into agreement, and I did it knowingly and I did it with my eyes open." That does not seem reasonable to me. It is too much to expect that you can take advice, ignore it and enter into an arrangement and then seek to have that arrangement abrogated.

MS TUCKER (5.59): This has been a difficult one for us. We will not be supporting the amendment, but I remind members that the next amendment of mine will ensure that any legal advice is formalised. We are bringing in greater accountability to any legal advice that is given. The arguments have been put well today, by Mr Stanhope in particular, and I have sympathy with them.

Amendment negatived.

MR RUGENDYKE (6.00): I will not move amendment No 4 on the green sheet. It was consequential on the success of the previous amendment, which was soundly defeated.

MS TUCKER (6.00): I move amendment No 13 circulated in my name [see schedule 2 part 1 at page 690].

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