Page 863 - Week 03 - Thursday, 10 March 2005

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and do the work and put it forward to convince the Assembly why we should be supportive of it. That work has not been done there for us to support it.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (11.58): Thank you, Mr Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to respond to the very thoughtful remarks made by other members of the Assembly. May I start by offering my apologies to Mr Stefaniak and other members of his party for not discussing this amendment with them prior to its presentation this morning. I think it has become clear that discussion before presenting amendments, bills and other matters in the Assembly would clear up some misunderstandings and improve the wording of anything that comes before us. In this case, this morning, there is very evidently some quite strong misunderstandings that I think have coloured the government’s response to our amendment, and I just want to cover those right now.

I should state that a lot of this misunderstanding could have been cleared up if the Attorney-General’s office was prepared to have a more substantive discussion with us. But the sense we had was that they considered this amendment to be fairly minor, and perhaps it is a nuisance. Amendments can be a nuisance, but sometimes they make things better as well and fairer.

This issue was raised with us by a member of the Consumer and Trader Tribunal. So we are talking about real events here. They are not frequent, of course, but they do happen and are anomalous. Sometimes people can have a strong sense of injustice just simply because they are anomalous.

We are not talking—let us make this clear; and I do not believe this was understood by the Attorney-General or by Ms MacDonald—about people who have committed offences while practising real estate agents. We are talking about someone like me, perhaps, mid-life; been going along; been a teacher for a while; have not had a job at all; my children have grown up; I have a chance to go back. But I have been living on—and this is not me, by the way—a sole parent benefit, perhaps, and I have unwittingly made a mistake. I can tell you that it is extremely easy to do with Centrelink benefits.

When I have decided that I want to make good for myself, I want a job, I do the course and then I go for registration. I find out that I am ineligible because I did not fight this fraud charge; I just said, “I will just go under. Centrelink always wins.” That is the feeling. There it is, the stain on my escutcheon. No longer am I able to operate in the field that I had chosen. That is just an example. That is what we are talking about. We are not talking about people who commit fraud while practising. I have to say that is a really different kettle of fish.

In closing, I would just like to say that I do commend this amendment to you, in the interests of fairness. With this clarification, the government might be prepared to reconsider its attitude to the amendment or it might just say, “We would like to talk about this with you further.” That would be a very progressive outcome of this debate, which I think has probably been constructive.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (12.02): I certainly appreciate the comments by the attorney, Ms MacDonald and Dr Foskey. I wish to make a couple of comments on that.

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