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 If only the Leader of the Opposition would move out of her comfortable cocoon to visit many of the tenanted homes around the electorate so that she can understand the difficulties that many landlords have with their tenants. The government is about the provision of equity to both tenant and landlord. Mr Stirling: How many houses have you got? Dr LEVI: None. For instance, one would expect that a tenant is responsible for all outstanding gas, electricity and water expenses incurred by the tenant before ceasing to occupy the premises. Yet in the Leader of the Oppositions bill, theres no mention of that. Does she expect the landlord to carry these outstanding accounts? Perhaps shes not even aware that such a clause exists in her bills. I ask through you, Mr Deputy Speaker, whether the Leader of the Opposition did read her bills and actually understood what was contained in the bills. Let me give you another example of the fuzzy way in which the Leader of the Opposition thinks. Her bill does not provide that the landlord may enter the premises if significant damage is suspected, nor that the landlord may enter the premises for the purposes of collecting rent. Yet, her bills provide for the tribunal the general power of allowing entry by order and without prior discussion with anyone. In contrast, I offer that a CLP government respects the rights of the tenant and the commissioner may only give an order for entry when the tenant impedes or fails to permit a legitimate entry by the landlord. The Leader of the Oppositions bills lack teeth. On the one hand, she wants to protect the tenant, yet she does not provide any penalty for breaches of significant sections of the legislation. I wonder if she was actually aware of that? Mr Deputy Speaker, I ask again - did she even read the bills and understand what she read? Here is another example of where I see her bill lacks teeth. It is a given that the tenant should be protected from a landlord concerning forward payment of rent. While her bill addresses this issue, she does not provide for any penalty for the breach of this provision. There should also be a requirement, surely, that rent payment records be made in a specified manner and be made available for inspection by the tenant. The Leader of the Oppositions bill does not address that. One item of the Leader of the Oppositions bill that I am very concerned about is the right of the tenant to assign or sublet the premises without the prior consent of the landlord. If I were to own a property that is rented to a person or persons whom I have assessed as reasonable tenants, I would be very loathe to have that property sublet by the tenants to others whom I am not aware nor approve of. Yet the Leader of the Opposition thinks that it is alright to do so. Let me tell her what that will do, it will only scare off any investor into residential tenancies. How can she expect anyone to risk capital over which he or she has no control? The Leader of the Opposition demonstrates that she has put little effort into this attempt to introduce legislation for the Northern Territory. There are so many aspects of her bills which are not to the mutual benefit of the tenant and the landlord; and I can continue along this vein, and pick the bill to pieces. For instance, I draw your attention to her requirement that a tenant be given 60 days notice to terminate the tenancy agreement and 180 days for moveable dwellings: 180 days, or half a year - there speaks a person who has never had to risk a single cent or make decision that could mean the loss of the shirt off her back in private enterprise. One of the most idiotic clauses in the Leader of the Oppositions bill is the one which prevents the landlord from commencing proceedings in court to obtain recovery of possession. How can any thinking person prevent a citizens lawful ability to seek resolution of a dispute through a court? That is another example of her fuzzy thinking. Before I close, I want to dwell briefly on the Leader of the Oppositions desire to create a rental board, another bureaucratic body. The industry functions perfectly well at the moment in relation to rental bonds. Let me tell you that I am currently living in rented premises in Alice Springs. For the first 6 months of last year, I rented through an agent. The bond was satisfactorily managed during the term of tenancy agreement. And my bond was refunded within 7 days of my termination of the lease agreement. In the latter half of last year, I rented directly from the landlord. He and I then agreed to the bond and how it was to be dealt with. There was no need for any bureaucratic process to intervene in our dealings. The Leader of the Oppositions bill will create a system in which the rental bond system will be centralised and controlled. If the Labor Party wishes to show itself to be the viable alternate government for the Northern Territory, then it must first of all know how the private market operates, how the open market can best find its own level without undue government influence. I support the minister in dismissing the Leader of the Oppositions bill. Having done a detailed study of her bills, I find too many flaws and suggest that they will cause more problems than they are intended to resolve. Ms MARTIN (Opposition Leader): Mr Deputy Speaker, I am very disappointed only 2 members of 2827