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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (29 August) . . Page.. 3085 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

However, we still hear of people getting credit cards without asking for them and without any obvious checks being made. I was told the other day of a couple of persons who were given credit cards without asking. One of our members last year was offered a great extension on his limit without any apparent steps being taken.

I gave a commitment to the last Assembly that I would raise this matter with the consumer affairs ministers. I think the Assembly wanted to see Mr Rugendyke's bill put in as model legislation. That almost occurred, but not quite. I was assured that we would have national code legislation or model legislation by the end of last year. I note that that has not occurred. Because we did not get the go-ahead then, Mr Rugendyke's bill did not proceed any further.

I note from talking to the government that the department no longer has the concerns it had about going it alone with this type of legislation. To relay what I have been told by the government, New South Wales no is longer driving it and the ACT might well do so, and that any problem in relation to the ministerial meeting is no longer an issue. Therefore, the department is quite comfortable with this legislation going ahead. I did not want us jumping the gun and suffering any penalties as a result, which may well have been the case last year. The opposition can only rely on what it has been told. I put that on record and hope it is correct.

I thank Ms Tucker for agreeing to a sensible amendment. Without the amendment, there would be an almost impossible impost on financial institutions. Members will note on page 2, on the third last line, she has taken out "complete". So instead of a debtor being asked for a complete statement of their financial situation, a number of sensible items are listed and the debtor will be asked for a statement.

What is listed there is not exclusive. Other things could be added. But it is logical that such a statement include income, all credit accounts and applicable limits and repayment commitments. Those are the sorts of things any prudent financial institution would want to know. Indeed, one would expect them to know those things, and it is common sense to list them.

I had considerable concerns with the word "complete". What does that mean. Does it even mean taking into account how much cash you have in your pocket? It would be impossible to fully comply with that. I thank Ms Tucker for taking that out. I think that makes it much better legislation that does not place unreasonable imposts on financial institutions or on debtors in having to remember every conceivable thing.

Whilst Ms Tucker probably wanted this legislation a bit earlier to give people more time to adjust, there is still some time in which institutions, if they need to, can make the necessary adjustments.

The opposition will be supporting the amendments Ms Tucker proposes as a result of consultation with the Department of Justice and Community Safety.


(5.57): I will also be supporting Ms Tucker's proposed amendment to the Fair Trading Act. I have considered the evidence presented by the Australian Banking Association, but I have not been persuaded that the finance sector will suffer a major impost as a result of these changes. On the other hand, I believe some benefit may result

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