Page 916 - Week 03 - Thursday, 10 March 2005

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genuine trust in all professionals. It is a professional calling that has suffered for many years—decades even—in terms of the respect or the light in which it is held.

We were advised today, in the same terms that Mr Stefaniak obviously has been advised, by the real estate institute that they believe they are making significant inroads at the moment on building credibility and trust. They are very concerned that an amendment such as this one at this time would potentially have a negative or deleterious effect on the work they have done as a profession, or as an organisation, to improve their standing within the community.

I have the same response as the one Mr Stefaniak has given to the circumstance in which the industry itself has said, “We are not calling for this amendment at this stage; we do not necessarily support it; we do not wish it to pass.” I think the Assembly really needs to take that view into account, particularly in light of the amount of time we have had to consider the amendment and the lack of consultation on it, when the most specific of the representing organisations that would be potentially affected by the amendment is saying to both the government and the opposition, “Our representation to you is that we do not support the passage of this amendment today.”

I think there are other issues in relation to that. As I said this morning, it is a position not supported by Dr Foskey. Mr Stefaniak accepted some of the argument, but said that there were aspects of the relationship between this amendment and its impact on the Spent Convictions Act—of which perhaps he did not agree with my interpretation—but, once again, we have not really thrashed it out.

I stand by the position I put this morning that the amendment would essentially allow the Commissioner for Fair Trading to be the decision maker, on the strength of a very broad discretion, as to whether a person should be disqualified from holding a real estate agent’s licence after five years, when the spent convictions legislation in relation to a conviction for dishonesty prescribes an essential 10-year ban from again participating in that particular industry. I think there is a direct conflict between Dr Foskey’s amendment and the spent convictions legislation. It effectively allows the Commissioner for Fair Trading to decide whether the spent convictions legislation, as it applies to dishonesty, as it applies to agents would apply in the future.

Dr Foskey, in her proposed new section 6A (1A), provides that a person is not disqualified from being licensed only because subsection 1A applies to the person in relation to an offence if the offence is not punishable by imprisonment or punishable by imprisonment of not longer than two years. Of course, that would catch a range of stealing offences, which really go to dishonesty. To that extent, I do not think it overcomes the concern I have that, if we are going to toy with the operation of the spent convictions legislation, we really should do it with our eyes open, we should do it in a broad and general context, and we should do it through amendments to the spent convictions legislation.

I am not endorsing that, supporting it or suggesting we should do that. I do not disagree with the position put by Mr Stefaniak that the government would be happy to consider proposals along these lines in the context of amendments to the Spent Convictions Act. I am not saying we would support it, but that is the forum in which I believe that this amendment should be considered. If this debate were being held in the context of the

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