Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 09 Hansard (Tuesday, 19 August 2008) . . Page.. 3198 ..
Mr Speaker, I will not be supporting amendments 3 and 4; nor will I be supporting amendments 5 and 6.
MR SESELJA (Molonglo) (11.59): We will be supporting those amendments. To save time, I will speak now to Greens’ amendments 3, 4 5, 6 and 8. It seems the minister trusts them so much that we need a whole lot of extraordinary powers. We believe that some of these do go further than they need to, and that is why we support the amendments.
The intervention powers are very intrusive. The government itself says that the community housing sector is not so high risk as the affordable housing sector. The bill is mainly aimed at CHC, the sole affordable housing provider, the government tells us. The government has chosen to ignore requests by community housing providers who have asked that these intervention powers not apply to them.
These intervention powers allow the commissioner to micromanage providers by (a) stacking their boards, (b) appointing administrators to control their affairs, and (c) appointing administrators for the purposes of wind-ups. These powers are very intrusive and confuse the role of government between regulator and participant in the market. These powers are separate to powers elsewhere in the bill to deregister providers—25T—or to withdraw funding or to recall properties provided under head leases. These are more suitable remedies where a community provider is in breach of regulatory requirements.
Deregistration is a very powerful sanction for a breach. If a provider owes the government money or has breached a contract, the government can also use normal legal options and contractual remedies without needing to take over an organisation entirely. There are other controls already available to government which mean that community providers cannot engage in rogue activity. Most community providers are managing ACT government properties under a head lease, and the properties cannot be borrowed against or otherwise disposed of.
Community housing providers can have other areas of activity beyond housing issues—for example, the provision of food, clothing or counselling. The takeover of operations by the housing commissioner may interfere with services and assets that were independently funded for other purposes. I am sure that many in the charitable sector would be concerned by the reach of these powers, and that is why we support the amendments put forward by the Greens.
MR HARGREAVES (Brindabella—Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Housing, Minister for Multicultural Affairs) (12.01): I move amendment No 7 circulated in my name [see schedule 2 at page 3292].
I thank Mr Seselja for speaking to the other amendments to save time. I will do the same with respect to government amendments 8 and 9. I will not speak on those amendments as they come up; I will just mention our intentions. The government will