Debates and Questions - Day 1 - 24 April 2020
Parliamentary Record 27
Debates and Questions for 13th Assembly 2019 - 2020; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 13th Assembly 2016 - 2020
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Debates and Questions
Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES AND QUESTIONS Friday 24 April 2020 8312 Mrs FINOCCHIARO (Opposition Leader): Madam Acting Deputy Speaker, there is no question that the entire world is amidst the largest health crisis in our living memory. Everyone has been impacted in some way. We have all been asked to sacrificesome more than others. The sacrifices are tough. Some people do not like what had to happen. The impact of this devastating crisis varies depending on our situation and how it affects our families, loved ones, businesses and our world. We understand that governments of all tiers are having to make necessary decisions in response to the crisis; the first duty of any government is to keep its people safe. There is a responsibility to ensure that wherever possible the burdens and financial responsibility sacrifices are distributed equally and fairly. The law of unintended consequences holds that when attempting to solve one problem, we should be wary of the unintended consequences or unwanted outcomes. In other words, when solving one problem, we do not want to create another. There is a danger that, no matter how wellintentioned we are when bringing legislation to this Chamber, changes sometimes make things worse and unintended consequences flow. The Prime Minister and the National Cabinet have been clear that we need to ensure balance of the rights of tenants and landlords and emphasis on facilitating conversations to ease the burdens of traditional contractual arrangements take place. We cannot have an influx of home or business tenancy evictions. There needs to be a mechanism to take into consideration this unique, unprecedented situation and take it out of parties controls. It comes back to the balance or rights of responsibilities in this difficult time. It is important to remember that many property owners are mum-and-dad investors who may have one or two investment properties. They may have worked hard their whole life to secure assets as part of their future plan, their family plan and their super plan. We should not approach this with a one-track mind in terms of what a property investor looks like. We must realise that this change will have a broad impact on many people. For some investors, the rental income they receive from a commercial or residential property may be their source of income. We have to be mindful of the impact on their families as well as the capacity for people to continue to meet the obligations that existed prior to this unprecedented crisis. This has impacted everyone to a different extent and will have a different impact going forward. When we look at this legislation it is critically important to get that balance correct between the rights of the tenant and the landlord. We have seen good and poor examples of this being done around the country. I will go through those shortly. We have questions on whether the government has struck the right balance. I am concerned about the minimal consultation in this bill. The Prime Minister made this announcement some weeks ago, which is a substantial amount of time. I accept that you do not have an ordinary amount of time to respond as a government. I know that a lot work would have been done on this, but the government has to consult and understand how its legislation impacts other people. We have clear examples of this government moving ahead with legislation without understanding or trying to understand the impact it has on others. We often talk about the pets clause. This is a clear and recent example of the government not understanding the impact on the balance of rights that a couple of sections and a piece of legislation can have. The opposition and cross bench were only briefed on this legislation around midday yesterday. That does not allow a lot of time to do important consultation with tenants, landlords, banks and other people this might impactwhoever it might be. It does not give a lot of time to fully go through the impacts Usually we send legislation to the parliamentary scrutiny committee to shed greater light on the unintended consequences which often flow from legislative amendments. I am not disputing the urgency; it is important to get this done. But the government has had a few weeks and could have approached this differently. We are increasingly seeing that this government is focused on itself, driving its own agenda. This dictatorial style of governing is starting to come through. I urge the government members to be cautious of their behaviour. Territorians have placed a tremendous amount of trust and faith in them. When we sat in the Chamber a month or so ago, we were asked to put a great deal of faith in the Gunner Labor government when it comes to the budget. Everyone supported that move. We recognised that we had
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