Page 2363 - Week 07 - Thursday, 4 August 2016

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testament to the consultation with the community sector partners and law enforcement agencies, leading to a safer city. These changes are justified when we see and hear of the terrible re-victimisation that can occur after domestic disputes turn violent or of children being forced to leave their residences and sometimes their schools and support groups because they cannot stay safely in their own homes.

I must note for the record that I am concerned about some of the practical implications of the victim, a protected person under the family violence act, attending ACAT to apply for termination or variation to their leases. I am hopeful that these issues will be worked through sensitively with the tribunal, police and the community sector support agencies.

Overall, this is a solid package of amendments and, as I said, the Greens are happy to support the bill. We think there is scope for further work in this space to increase clarity about the rights and responsibilities of all stakeholders and more to be done to protect vulnerable tenants, but today’s bill is a positive one and I am pleased to support it on behalf of the ACT Greens.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister for the Environment and Climate Change) (5.02), in reply: I thank members for their support of this bill. The bill makes, as members have observed, some important changes to our residential tenancies law to strengthen the capacity of both lessors and lessees to address a range of circumstances which have been identified as needing improvement.

I would like to respond to a number of the matters raised by the opposition in the debate. The first is in relation to the process of consultation. It is the case that consultation and the development of options for this legislative package have occurred over a period of a number of years. It would be worth making the observation, though, that the package before us is being supported today because there is a consensus across all stakeholders that these are desirable and important reforms. The difficulty with residential tenancy law is that that is not always the case. Often there are conflicting interests and conflicting expectations between lessors and lessees about how the law should operate when it comes to the rental market. Therefore, the government has chosen to put to this place a package of measures that does have support and consensus across the broad range of views that are reflected in this part of our economy.

The second observation I would make is in relation to the terminology, and I think it is perhaps an observation for future debates. We tend to continue to refer to people who let properties as “landlords” and people who rent them, who take up a tenancy, as “tenants”. The use of the term “landlord” I think is well and truly past its use-by date. No longer are we involved in some serf-like engagement with a landowner or a property owner. The fact is that nearly a quarter of all Canberrans now rely on rental accommodation for their accommodation needs. I think it would be timely, when looking at future tranches of law reform, for consideration to be given to the use of the term “lessor” and “lessee” when it comes to residential tenancy matters. But be that as it may.

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