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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (20 June) . . Page.. 2246 ..

MR RUGENDYKE (continuing):

from fulfilling its charter, and I would be highly surprised that those who were responsible for signing us up to this agreement would have anticipated the ACT having to seek permission from this council before passing its own laws.

I should also bring to the attention of members that the New South Wales fair trading minister, Mr John Watkins, presently has legislation before his parliament regarding payday lenders. The New South Wales bill goes further and is not consistent with reforms that have been signed off by the ministerial council and are presently awaiting passage in the template state of Queensland. When this bill is formally adopted in Queensland and comes on line, the New South Wales fair trading minister will be in the same position as the ACT with the bill nominated in the motion here today. I wonder whether New South Wales will be treated with expulsion from the ministerial council. But I digress.

The purpose of this motion is to ask the government to take the reforms proposed in my bill to the ministerial council and move a motion to have them incorporated in the uniform consumer credit code. The next meeting is in the ACT next month.

I am also asking the government to seek endorsement from the ministerial council for the ACT to proceed with debate on the nominated bill and, if it is passed by the Assembly, allow gazettal without penalty until such time as reforms for credit card limit increases in the uniform credit code are implemented.

This is a straightforward request, and I believe it is important that the ACT take a leading role in addressing the concerns caused by the conduct at the centre of this issue, which conduct is proliferating by the day. I urge members to support this motion so we can progress the debate in the ACT.

MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education and Attorney-General) (9.37): The government is quite supportive of, and in no way disagrees with, the sentiments expressed by Mr Rugendyke in his proposed amendments to the Fair Trading Amendment Bill.

Under those amendments, a credit provider will be able to enter into a credit contract or increase the amount of credit available under an existing credit contract only after undertaking a satisfactory assessment of the person's capacity to repay the credit. The amendments would prevent a credit provider from issuing pre-approved credit limit documents to customers without first having undertaken a satisfactory assessment of their ability to pay. The examples Mr Rugendyke gives provide a very good reason for the ACT and other state and territory governments to carefully consider how best these matters might be addressed.

In recent discussions between the government and Mr Rugendyke, it was agreed that amendments should proceed within the context of the national scheme concerning consumer credit. The ACT, with most other states and the Northern Territory, is a signatory to the Australian Uniform Credit Laws Agreement 1993. That forms the basis on which most Australian jurisdictions have agreed to the uniform consumer credit code, the law that regulates consumer credit matters.

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