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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 4 Hansard (1 April) . . Page.. 1123 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

We welcome this initiative to establish a tribunal and hope that it does bring justice to many consumers, agents and the security industry alike. We note that Ms Tucker will be moving some quite pertinent amendments and we hope that they will be incorporated into this legislation.

MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for the Environment) (11.25), in reply: Mr Speaker, this bill establishes the Consumer and Trader Tribunal, which will replace the existing Agents Board and the five dispute resolution bodies servicing the security industry. The tribunal will hear disciplinary matters related to the conduct of participants in the agents and security industries and appeals against licensing and registration decisions for these industries.

The name of the tribunal reflects the mutually advantageous and interactive relationship that exists between traders and consumers. The bill will provide a number of benefits for these industries and the consumers of their services.

Firstly, the bill sets out a mechanism for traders to have industry licensing decisions made by the Commissioner for Fair Trading reviewed. Secondly, the bill allows the tribunal to consider whether traders should be licensed and whether disciplinary action should be taken against a trader. An application for disciplinary action may be the result of an investigation following a consumer complaint to the Commissioner for Fair Trading. Disciplinary action against members within these industries also protects consumers by improving industry standards and delivery of services.

The name of the tribunal will also permit the jurisdiction of the tribunal to be expanded at some later time. The jurisdiction of the tribunal could be expanded to handle consumer complaints and review licensing decisions for other industries. The bill will also streamline current agents and security tribunal processes, standardise the appointment process for tribunal members, and allow for greater flexibility for the hearing of matters related to these industries. Members of the tribunal will be called upon, depending on their expertise. The structure of the tribunal may vary from one member to seven members sitting, depending on the complexity of the matters being determined. The tribunal will also be flexible and responsive to the immediate needs of the matters under review.

The bill is the result of extensive industry and consumer consultation. The bill was developed in consultation with the Agents Board, the registrar and secretariat of the Agents Board, the Real Estate Institute of the ACT, the chair of the Essential Services Consumer Council, the Office of Fair Trading, all key stakeholders within the ACT security industry, and the industry association representing the ACT security industry. The conceptual framework of the tribunal was also discussed at a meeting of security employers and the legislation has the broad backing of all those consulted.

I foreshadow that I will be making two government amendments to this bill as a result of comments from the Scrutiny of Bills Committee. I commend the bill to the Assembly

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

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