Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 10 Hansard (Tuesday, 12 September 2017) . . Page.. 3527 ..
I foreshadow that this is an area that we will continue to monitor very closely with regard to the City Renewal Authority and Suburban Land Agency. It is a problematic area of government policy.
The other area that is worthy of note is the changes to the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 and Residential Tenancies Regulation 1998. These relate to smoke alarms in rental properties, and this is a fix for an unintended problem. The original intent was to allow people leasing properties to install a hardwired or a battery-operated smoke alarm that meets the relevant Australian standard. However, the existing act had the unintended consequence of requiring lessors of an existing building to install only hardwired alarms rather than having the choice of installing hardwired or battery-operated alarms. This now addresses that issue, with a series of consequential amendments as well.
With regard to structural amendments to the Legislation Act schedule 2, which is reserved for minor, non-controversial amendments of the Legislation Act initiated by the PCO, none appear controversial. They originate from the PCO, and I commend again the good work that the PCO does in supporting our legislative framework here in the ACT. Schedule 3, technical amendments, appears to be exactly that. I again thank the Attorney-General’s office and the PCO for their good work, and also those who have provided specific feedback, in particular the Law Society, who had no issues with this bill. As I said, we will be supporting it.
MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong) (11.38): As Mr Hanson has noted, this bill makes a number of amendments to 17 acts. These amendments are minor, structural and technical. I would like to make a few remarks on some of the significant ones among them. One of the more significant changes in the bill relates to the residential tenancies legislation. It clarifies that smoke alarms must be installed in rented premises and that these smoke alarms must meet the requirements prescribed by regulation. This allows for regulations to be updated from time to time rather than the requirements being restricted by the building code. In effect, this means that smoke alarms may be either battery operated or otherwise hardwired and connected to mains power, which is what the building code requires for some classes of buildings.
I am very pleased to see this amendment come through. A number of years ago I circulated a discussion paper and started talking about having minimum standards for rental properties. This is certainly one of the areas that should be in place. I think we still have some distance to go on other matters, but I certainly welcome the fact that this is being dealt with here. We do now need to consider issues such as energy efficiency ratings and the like, but certainly from a safety point of view this is an especially important minimum standard for rental properties.
I now turn to issues with the City Renewal Authority legislation. The bill also clarifies the procedure for establishing the audit and risk committee for the City Renewal Authority. Members will recall that, when the legislation was debated earlier this year, there were many simultaneous amendments from all three parties in this place, so I think it was probably inevitable that there would be a few areas that would need a little tidying up. This is one of those areas, and we certainly support this.