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Debates and Questions - Day 1 - 24 April 2020



Debates and Questions - Day 1 - 24 April 2020

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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

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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 AND QUESTIONS Friday 24 April 2020 8317 The sections of this bill for residential and commercial tenancies include a clause concerning acquisition on just terms. Section 50 of the Northern Territory (Self-Government) Act 1978 provides that the power of the Legislative Assembly: does not extend to the making of laws with respect to the acquisition of property otherwise than on just terms. Accordingly, where property has deemed to have been acquired in a manner by acquisition then that may be compensated. Clause 5 and clause 10 add identical clauses to the Business Tenancies (Fair Dealings) Act 2003 and the Residential Tenancies Act to provide that any of the changes resulting in an acquisition of property must be on just terms and that a court may decide the amount of compensation. Depending on what is included in the modification notices, which we do not know because the government has not bothered to even draft let alone give them to us, it is likely that some of the provisions could amount to an acquisition of property. Again, we do not know, we just have to trust you because, shell be right. Has the government done any analysis or prepared any projections about what the anticipated cost could be required to compensate parties for changes that could be characterised as acquisitions of property? Has any estimate been prepared of the legal cost that may be associated with having to defend such claims? Has any process been determined for allowing affected parties to seek just-terms compensation outside of the costly and time consuming judicial process? These are all very valid questions. From across the Chamber I can see the Attorney-General furiously scribbling notes. I am very much looking forward to her responding to my questions. As I have made very clear, the opposition fully recognises and supports the protection of tenants and landlords that have experienced hardship as a result of this unprecedented and devastating COVID-19 health and economic crisis. However, these protections must be balanced and fair. Given the possibility of unintended consequences it is necessary that the modification notices are well planned, well considered and well consulted on to ensure there is that balancing of hardships to protect against any party being treated unfairly or having the opposite consequence of what was intended in the first place, which is to relieve and alleviate hardship. It is in the interest of the Territory that investors and tenants are able to weather this storm. We need everyone to get through this and return to normality as soon as possible. We look forward to the governments response to our concerns and a more in-depth examination of what this means for Territorians, whether we have struck the balance and have control of unintended consequences during the consideration in detail. Mr WOOD (Nelson): Madam Acting Deputy Speaker, I believe we came here today to help people in the Northern Territory get through a very difficult time. Obviously we want to work together as best we can. I am disappointed that a simple debate about whether we should have Question Time today was stifled. We started at 8.30 this morning, which is an hour and a half ahead of when we normally do. A debate on that would do no harm. It would have shown that we are open and transparent and it is worth debating because whether we have Question Time or not is an important matter. But that is done now. I also felt there was an opportunity hereI have said this beforefor the Chief Minister to make a statement to parliament about where we are at with Coronavirus. There needs to be a leader who will report to this parliament with a statement, not only for the community and all Territorians, but because the Chief Minister is responsible to this parliament for everything he does under legislation. This was a great opportunity to at least define where we are as a Northern Territory in relation to this crisis. Maybe at the end of the debate there should be an opportunity for a ministerial statement by the Chief Minister, so that we can hear where we are and what the government is doing, not just through media releases. There are plenty of media releases to tell me what the government is doing. That is not the same as giving a ministerial statement to the House. I listened intently to the Leader of the Opposition and feel quite small in this debate, because I obviously have not been able to deal with this with the degree of investigation the Leader of the Opposition has.

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