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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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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES AND QUESTIONS Friday 24 April 2020 8318 When the urgency debate was passed, I wonder whether the government gave any consideration to giving us a first reading, then allowing time for debate to come on later in the day. In other words, we might have had the first three readings and I could have gone out to read that in light of the legislation before me. I had a briefing yesterday, which went for about half an hour. It is relatively difficult to have a briefing when my meeting was at 10.30 and the legislation was sent to me at 10.33. It is difficult to have a good understanding of the legislation. I understand the purpose of it and philosophy behind it. Overall I think it is supported, but to thoroughly know the ins and outs of what this legislation will do and what effects it will haveI am concerned that some parts of the legislation may carry on further than the Coronavirus emergency period. I would expect this piece of legislation to be repealed at the end of the emergency period. If the government then wants to bring in changes not relevant to the emergency periodif it thinks there is room for improvement in the Residential Tenancies Actit should introduce them at another stage. I feel it is a bit underhanded when I see legislation that is not just about helping people during the emergency period. I am interested to hear what the minister has to say on that matter. There is no doubt that people are struggling. From my electorate, I know that many small businesses are struggling. I raised some of the issues with the landlord of small businesses trying to survive and pay rent. The landlord said, Well, we are having trouble surviving, too. We obviously have to find the balance; that is really important. The landlord I spoke to said, We are struggling, too. We are finding it hard and no one is giving us any rent relief. The federal government is handing out money here and there, but the big peoplenot all big people. As the Leader of the Opposition said, a lot of landlords are just mums and dads who invested some money. Big people who would probably be paying high interest rates on loans for their premises do not get any rent relief. They are struggling at times. It is an important matter to debate today because it affects landlords, the people who rent from those landlords and residential tenancies. There are a couple of issues. I am not sure if we should take it up during the committee stage. I hope we have a bit of flexibility in the committee stage because one of the issues with this urgency debate is that is has not gone to a scrutiny committee. We have not had time to look at the explanatory statement and we had a limited briefing. If you have no knowledge of the existing Residential Tenancies Act or the Law of Property Act, looking at the ramifications of this legislation cannot be done quickly. The Leader of the Opposition raised a good question: who has been spoken to about this legislation and do they think it will work? It would be good to get feedback from the people who have been affected. In many cases they will be the landlords, but we also have people who represent home renters who are concerned people will get evicted unfairly. I quote from the Chief Ministers statement on 8 April: The Territory Labor Government will deliver $180 million in additional support to Territory businesses as part of our Jobs Rescue and Recovery Plan. We are: Reducing payroll tax; Reducing utilities bills; Providing incentives for commercial landlords to reduce rents; and Working with councils to reduce rates. For Territory businesses that demonstrate substantial hardship due to the coronavirus crisis, the Territory Government will: Abolish payroll tax for six months for smaller and medium-sized businesses, and defer it for six months for large businesses; and