Page 1995 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 5 June 2018

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MR RAMSAY: Again our Canberra Liberals are demonstrating not only an inability but an unwillingness to engage with the legal realities of what has been recommended from the Supreme Court. The key difference from the existing process is that the legal basis for moving forward when a payment plan is breached is set out step by step in the legislation. That makes clear the roles and responsibilities.

Lessors can still seek to move out tenants who do not meet their rental obligations but their basis for doing so is clear. It is legislated and the avenues for a tenant to make a case, including hardship, are clearly set out. Importantly, the new process provides a clear avenue for the ACAT to look at the circumstances and to make a fair, impartial decision before anyone is evicted. I would have thought that the Canberra Liberals may have at least paid lip-service to being fair and impartial but today they have chosen not to.

I have met with REIACT as part of this legislative development in regard to both aspects. There is a clear benefit for lessors in this legislation which has increased certainty about how to proceed when a payment plan does not work out. The view that REIACT did put forward, which has been echoed by the Canberra Liberals today, is that legislation governing tenancy and public housing should be different from other kinds of tenancies.

Let me reiterate the government’s view. Our intention is not to create different classes of tenants but to ensure that all people—tenants and others—have secure, affordable housing, and in today’s legislation we are focusing on those people who are at most risk. I do thank REIACT for its willingness to engage. It was a very positive conversation, a very fruitful conversation, and the views of the people who manage rentals and own rental properties are, of course, very important. The government will remain open to hearing from them throughout the course of our ongoing residential tenancy reforms.

The amendments today are, as a package, a win for vulnerable Canberrans. They ensure that people who are vulnerable and who are behind on rent have clear rights and that the ACAT has a clear process for looking at the situations. They also allow for important work to be done to make sure that any alternatives to rental bonds meet the needs of the entire Canberra community.

We are currently undertaking a broad examination of residential tenancy laws. Reform to the way that occupancy agreements cover diverse living situations, such as student housing and caravan parks, is currently under development. We are also looking closely at developments in Victoria to help make renting more secure and safe. These efforts will be guided, like this bill, by a focus on the most vulnerable people in our city. And we will not apologise for that. We will keep working to ensure that our community is safer, is stronger, and is more connected. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Question put:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

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