Page 2768 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 16 August 2005
I anticipate that the government will argue that the term “posted” is well understood and that there is no need to define it in the legislation. I do not accept this objection. There are many terms that have a common use meaning that nonetheless are defined in legislation for the purpose of clarity. Furthermore, government representatives could not identify how the common use meaning used by the Residential Tenancies Tribunal might differ from the definition proposed in my amendment. I believe that including a definition can only benefit tenants who may be considering the impact of this clause. It is also to ensure that tenants understand that clause 7 is a voluntary clause that can be included in agreements rather than a mandatory clause that they must accept.
I believe the Department of Justice and Community Safety has given an undertaking to talk to the law society about how the clause will be incorporated into the proforma to ensure that tenants are aware that it is optional. I urge the government to ensure that this is followed through and check back with community groups representing tenants to ensure that they are satisfied that the pro forma makes the optional nature of this clause adequately clear to prospective tenants.
MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Arts, Heritage and Indigenous Affairs) (5.24): The government has determined to oppose this particular amendment. We do contend, as Dr Foskey has foreshadowed, that the term “posted” has not only a well-understood meaning but also a meaning that has been in use within the ACT rental market for decades. It is not the department’s experience that there has been a single problem with it, or a single notification or a single note that it has created any problem or any confusion at any stage.
The government’s contention is that to now seek to define a term that to date has been undefined will perhaps create the confusion that does not currently exist. The government’s position is to oppose it in the terms that it adds nothing, that it is a term that has been well understood and well used and we are not aware of any confusion around its use at all. I believe that to now define it, after decades of use, might create the very issue of concern that Dr Foskey seeks to avoid.
MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (5.26): The opposition will also be opposing the amendment. I note, as the Chief Minister said, it is a term that has been well defined over many years, decades even. I am certainly unaware of any problems that it has caused. By defining it as compulsory transfer and weeding out people who are voluntarily posted for very good reasons might cause some significant problems. It is a well-understood term. It certainly does not seem to have caused, as far as I can see, any great problems in the past. I think this might cause more problems than it would solve.
Clause 7 agreed to.
Proposed new clause 7A.
MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Arts, Heritage and Indigenous Affairs) (5.27): I move