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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 3 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 646 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

two sets of amendments. We, as supporters of proposals for preferential rights, will support his pink amendments but will not support his green amendments.

I would like to make detailed comment on Labor's reasons for extending this level of preference, but I think I will do it when the pink amendments are proposed. While we are opposing the amendment proposed by Mr Rugendyke to insert a new clause 105A, we will be supporting the amendments his pink sheet proposes in relation to this same issue. We are not disagreeing with this initiative, but I will speak to it when the pink amendments are moved. Suffice it to say at this stage that the Labor Party will not be supporting the amendment that Mr Rugendyke has moved.

MR KAINE (6.31): I support Mr Rugendyke on this issue. It has been my concern during this whole debate that we could end up shifting the balance too far. It has been argued over a long period of time that tenants are at a disadvantage, and presumably the purpose of this bill was to rectify the balance. When I read the totality of Mr Rugendyke's proposed new clause, I think it is an acceptable recipe. He starts off with quite a hard-nosed approach. He says:

If the lessor proposes to re-lease the premises and the tenant wants to renew or extend the term of the lease, the lessor must give preference under this section to the tenant.

That is pretty strong language, and you would think it did not leave much room for debate. Proposed new subclause (2) is of a similar tenor:

The lessor must assume the tenant wants a renewal or extension of the term of the lease, unless the tenant has told the lessor in writing (otherwise than in the lease) within 12 months before the end of the term that the tenant does not want a renewal or extension.

It is very strongly in favour of the tenant. When I read that, I wondered whether maybe Mr Rugendyke was going a little bit too far. But by the time I got down to proposed new subclauses (4) and (5) as proposed by his amendment, I decided that he was not, because the tenor changes a little bit. Proposed new subclause (4) says:

The lessor must not offer to lease the premises to someone other than the tenant unless it would be substantially more advantageous to the lessor to lease the premises to the other person rather than renew or extend the term of the lease.

In other words, if there is a potential lessee who will take the lease at a substantially higher rate than the present lessee, then it lets the lessor off the hook. That is the way I read that.

Proposed new subclause (5) softens it even further. It says that the "lessor is not obliged to prefer the tenant under this section" under a number of circumstances, one of which is:

the lease is for premises in a shopping centre and the lessor reasonably wants to change the tenancy mix within the whole precinct of the shopping centre;

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