Page 862 - Week 03 - Thursday, 10 March 2005

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regard to a period of disqualification in relation to an offence of dishonesty when the Spent Convictions Act, one would have hoped, dealt with the issue generally?

It seems to me—and that is my argument—that we have a piece of general legislation which deals with spent convictions. You look at this provision. This proposal deals with the regime that should apply in relation to a period of disqualification, essentially a spent conviction clause to be inserted in the agents legislation. I am just saying, “Why deal with spent convictions in any way relating to real estate agents or other agents in the Agents Act when we do not do it in relation to other professions or industry groups? We rely on the Spent Convictions Act.”

MS MacDONALD (Brindabella) (11.53): I had not intended to speak to this amendment, but I have been listening with great interest to Dr Foskey’s arguments and to, firstly, the Chief Minister’s comments and then Mr Stefaniak’s comments in relation to it. I just want to raise one particular point. As I understand it, Dr Foskey has talked specifically about real estate agents, but there has been the indication that it would apply to other areas as well. The Chief Minister and Attorney-General was just talking about it in relation to legal practitioners.

I would like to address specifically the issue of licensed agents. What it comes down to for me, and I think what it comes down to for members of the community, is: do we want somebody who has been convicted of fraud, after five years, to be able to go back in and start selling, to become a real estate agent again? Do we want somebody who has already made it the case that they have broken people’s trust and have been convicted for breaking people’s trust to go back in? What we are talking about is somebody who is responsible for looking after what is a major purchase, something that is extremely significant for virtually all of our community—the purchase of the place that they live in or, even if it is not the place that they live in, an investment property.

My question to Dr Foskey is: do you actually want people who have betrayed a trust to be allowed to go back in five years afterwards? I am sorry, but I do not believe that five years is a substantial amount of time, that they will necessarily change their ways if they have actually betrayed the trust. I do understand what Dr Foskey is talking about in terms of minor offences. Mr Stefaniak raised that issue as well. However, if you have got to the situation where it has been debated amongst several areas—and a number of people, a number of areas, have said that it should not be the case that those people should have their licenses reissued—I think we need to be saying, “You have broken the trust; you do not get the licence back after five years. That is too short a time.” You have to make sure that these people are not actually being allowed to take advantage of other people again.

I understand the comments of Dr Foskey about rehabilitation. I also understand what she is saying about minor offences. I understand that she has also said that she has not gone in depth within her amendment in terms of defining what is actually being said if somebody gets a major number of speeding fines put on their record. But you do have to draw the line somewhere. I think it is a flaw in the amendment. If Dr Foskey seriously wanted this amendment to get up, then she needed to make it very clear. As it is at the moment, I do not believe that it can be supported.

I understand that Dr Foskey claims that she did not do it because she had spoken to the Attorney-General’s office and they were supportive of it. The fact is that you need to go

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