Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (4 March) . . Page.. 469 ..
MR HARGREAVES (continuing):
incumbent upon us all to get behind any push to eliminate this rotten practice and put it to the sword once and for all.
MS DUNDAS (3.51): Mr Speaker, gazumping goes against the Australian sense of fairness. Gazumping becomes common in a rising market, and house prices in most of Australia's capital cities, including Canberra, have been rising quite dramatically. State governments around Australia have been made aware of the distress of home buyers gazumped at auction and have introduced legislation to outlaw gazumping. New South Wales and Victoria have led the way in this area.
Most people believe that a person who makes the winning bid at an auction is immediately bound to a contract to purchase the property they bid on. Therefore, it seems unjust to buyers that the vendor is able to repudiate a contract when a buyer believes they will forfeit their 10 per cent deposit if they repudiate the contract.
In the ACT there is no binding agreement of sale until contracts are exchanged, which can take several days. This provides a window for gazumping to occur. New South Wales has overcome this problem by legislating that a contract is concluded at the point when the hammer falls at auction.
The ACT Democrats strongly support the regulation of gazumping, so that the law will reflect community belief about right and wrong in the area of property sales. It appears that such a change is supported by most, if not all, members of the Assembly, with both Labor and Liberal committing to reform of this area in the past.
The Stanhope government committed to a review of gazumping last June, which I presume must have progressed substantially since Mr Hargreaves initiated this discussion on a matter of public importance. I hope legislative reform in that review is concluded sooner rather than later and we do not find ourselves in this position next year.
But the heart of the problem is that housing has become unaffordable for a large section of our community. This is causing homelessness for those at the lower end of the economic ladder and severe stress among intending home buyers who are currently in the rental market.
Gazumping reform will relieve some stress for home buyers, but it will not make a substantial impact on Canberra's housing shortage. It seems to me that outlawing gazumping is a relatively straightforward change, and time and effort would be better spent on working out how to increase the total supply of affordable housing.
I hope that the proposed rental guarantee and rental bond schemes are being given the highest priority by this government, so that more homeless and inadequately housed people can access private rental accommodation. I hope the government is also tackling improved pathways-from public housing to private rental housing and from private rental to home ownership.
Most importantly, I have been calling for members to create diverse housing for incorporation into our planning framework. The affordable housing task force report, released late last year, has strongly supported redevelopment in our suburbs. But in reality, all the redevelopment has been at the high cost end. We need to urgently