Page 2696 - Week 07 - Thursday, 3 July 2008

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Decisions made on a subjective interpretation rarely work. They cause confusion and unintended consequences, and inevitably will limit the intended purpose of the law. The result is that unsatisfied parties then march off on the road to appeal, multiplying the financial cost of resolving these kinds of matters. Importantly, that causes a lot of emotion, mental stress and frustration on both sides, and there is certainly a lot of that in any eviction matter. Such a burdensome but necessary outcome is brought on only because a tribunal president or perhaps a Supreme Court judge has had to make a subjective assessment of the case.

Subjective assessments will introduce elements that are irrelevant to the facts of the case and add a layer of legal argument that serves little or no purpose. A landlord, when faced with the effects of this amendment, could find an eviction order very difficult to obtain when the RTT gets involved in the subjective interpretation of a case rather than limiting itself to an assessment on the merits of the facts. That is our basic concern in that regard.

When its first effort did the job—and I think it has—why would the government go to the trouble of fixing a flaw in the system and then barely draw another breath before watering it down to the point where the purpose of the initial amendment was vaporised?

We were concerned, in the note which accompanied the amendment back in April, and I thank the attorney for the note, that the author of the note stated that “the amendment ensures that evictions following on from a breach of a specific performance order will only happen if justified in all the circumstances”. “All the circumstances” is of great concern. If the attorney assures me that the word “all” is not in there, that might alleviate a bit of the concern. It does concern me that this may make it very hard for landlords, including Housing ACT, to evict bad tenants. Surely, that is something that is not in the public interest, and it is something that we need to ensure that the law is able to do, when necessary.

Debate interrupted in accordance with standing order 74 and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for a later hour.

Sitting suspended from 12.31 to 2.30 pm.

Questions without notice


MR SESELJA: My question is to the Minister for Children and Young People, Ms Gallagher and relates to the removal of four children from their home by ACT Policing on Sunday, 22 June. Minister, when did you first become aware of the Ainslie issue and, upon becoming aware, what were the actions that you took?

MS GALLAGHER: I became aware on the Wednesday; I think it was 25 June. I contacted the chief executive of the Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services.

MR SESELJA: Minister, by what means did you become aware on the Wednesday?

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