Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 7 August 2008) . . Page.. 3107 ..
issues as a provider’s ability to meet standards or other criteria at the time of registration. For example, a provider may be given a time frame in which to meet the standards or other criteria.
DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (6:39): This amendment makes it clear that registration of affordable and community housing providers is on application. In essence, it corrects a bit of loose drafting which might have had unforeseen consequences. I will be supporting it. This is the first of several meaningful amendments which the government is making, and we should acknowledge what this represents. Since the minister agreed to adjourn debate of this bill last month, community housing providers and peak groups developed a detailed response to the bill as drafted, and departmental staff met with them to talk through the government’s proposed amendments in response. I have to say that this is a very good outcome.
A fairly respectful dialogue is leading, I believe, to much better legislation. You have to ask why the minister or the department did not ensure they got this feedback before the 11th hour. I know that the government argues that there was consultation on the bill in November last year and that therefore the providers should have been on the lookout for the bill when it was introduced in May, should have combed the legislation register regularly to catch it when it appeared and should not have been surprised when my office contacted them in July to ask for their views on the bill. I think those are facile excuses, and that approach is far too cavalier when working with community partners.
I had thought, in fact, that the government would have sent those few providers a draft of the bill in order to seek their specific responses—suggestions it has now taken in these amendments—ahead of tabling the bill in May. Even the simplest action, such as putting out a four-line media release when the bill was tabled or emailing a link to the bill to the five or so providers whose operations this bill would directly affect just now listed by the minister, would have demonstrated to tenants and the providers some interest from government. Anyway, after we dug around a bit and the providers themselves started voicing concerns, the minister did the right thing. Since then we have moved forward, thankfully. Perhaps future governments might learn an easy lesson from this sequence of events and build ongoing engagement with their community partners into their legislative process.
MR SESELJA (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (6:41): We will support this amendment. This amendment clarifies that the registration of a provider cannot be done without their permission. I understand this is a concern raised by providers, so we are pleased to see the amendment. We do not think it would be reasonable for the government to rope in providers which wanted to operate outside government funding and regulation.
In relation to the points raised by the minister and Dr Foskey, I agree broadly with what Dr Foskey said. How this was handled initially was less than ideal. Providers should have been more thoroughly consulted. I spoke with a provider on the Monday before the bill was initially debated in June, and they had no awareness of it. I was just meeting with them by chance on another issue. Clearly, it was not handled very well at the start. I certainly raised a number of issues in my speech in the Assembly in June. However, having got it wrong in the first place, this minister has shown a