Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 17 February 1999



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 17 February 1999

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Parliamentary Record 14


Debates for 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001




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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Wednesday 17 February 1999 Mr STIRLING (Nhulunbuy): It is no surprise at all Mr Deputy Speaker, to hear the minister reject these bills, but I want to speak in support of both of them. The current legislation, as the minister said, goes back to 1979 and it is the Tenancy Act. Despite a high proportion of renters both public and private in the Northern Territory - the minister just said some 54% in the Darwin urban area, almost 50% across the Northern Territory - and despite the fact that this legislation was inadequate when it was introduced and passed in this Assembly 20 years ago, hopelessly out of date and out of step with all other jurisdictions in Australia, the Country Liberal Party has not bothered to introduce new legislation. Why, Mr Deputy Speaker? It is the simple fact that the Country Liberal Party does not care about the battlers. It does not care about the low income families forced to pay a high proportion of their disposable income on rent, for next to no protection, from real estate agents and unreasonable landlords within its legislation. They have had a couple of half-hearted attempts to do something about it but they have never followed through. It ill behoves the minister to come in here and berate the Leader of the Opposition for at least standing on her feet and putting forward legislation of some description when the CLP have ignored it for 20 years. He then berates the Leader of the Opposition for failing to consult, Mr Deputy Speaker, and produces a letter from the head of the Real Estate Institute of the Northern Territory in reply to the bill put forward by the Leader of the Opposition. So on the one hand she talks to them herself and on the other produces correspondence which in itself is very evident that of course she did. She did put the bill out for discussion. The former Member for Jingili, reincarnated since the last election here, actually chaired a working group throughout the early 90s looking at tenancy legislation, producing a report in late 1993. I recall having been elected in late 1990, the former Member for Jingili breathlessly informing this House on many occasions, Mr Deputy Speaker, of the progress from time to time. But we never saw any outcomes of any of this review or any of this consultative work actually being translated into a positive in the form of new legislation in this house. Finally, in 1996 the Attorney-General released another discussion paper on a draft residential tenancies bill. Now, in February 1999, we on this side of the House and all Territorians, still await the introduction of legislation with proper and fair protection for all parties. The Country Liberal Party has at times in the past been very quick to introduce and pass legislation when it comes to matters adversely affecting their rich and powerful friends - land developers for one. But when it comes to protection and fair and reasonable rights for that half of Territorians who rent their accommodation they are not able to get their act into gear after 20 years. I was quite sure before I got to my feet that the minister would not accept this bill nor does he want to listen to any contribution to debate but he simply couldnt bear to support any initiative coming from the opposition benches which shows up their inactivity. However, if this bills introduction has the effect of shifting the Country Liberal Party off its rump to actually finalising and introducing its own tenancies legislation it will have done the job. It is quite clear that none of the members who sit on the government benches have had rental difficulties or arguments over return of bond monies themselves or else they would have acted much sooner. Rather than renting it is much more likely that government members are landlords themselves along with many of their mates. And that is much more likely their reason for their inaction on this social issue. I remind the Country Liberal Party, Mr Deputy Speaker, although there are not a lot of them in here at the moment, that they are elected to govern on behalf of all Territorians not just those who support them and not just their rich and powerful mates and sponsors. And I know that you would understand what I am saying. It is clear that over the years they have become so used to being in government, that they have lost sight of the reason that they are there. And that is to protect the interest of the Territory and its people and that includes the battling renter. They are proving by their inaction that their view of government responsibility is to hang onto power for its own sake rather than the betterment of the people. I commend the bills to the House. I urge government if it is going to reject this bill as the minister says, it is time to get off its own backside and introduce its own bill at the very first opportunity. Dr LIM (Greatorex): Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to contribute to this debate. As members recall I was given the task in October last year to assist in the review of the Tenancy Act, the governments draft bill, and the two bills from the Leader of the Opposition which we are debating right now. The Leader of the Opposition was on radio several days ago slagging into me suggesting that I have done nothing. Well she guessed wrong and I suggest that she apologise for that. Mr Deputy Speaker, since that time I have taken time to read the legislation, the draft bill and the Leader of the Oppositions two bills. I have consulted extensively with officers of the Department of the 2825