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
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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 8328 Sometimes when you listen to those opposite, you think their understanding of legislation is that you click your fingers and it appears. That is not how it is. These things are worked up and there is important discussion about it. I acknowledge the hard-working public servantsperhaps some are listening todaywho have been taking the National Cabinet principles and implementing them into legislation in the Northern Territory context. Everything we do through this health crisis is aimed at helping Territorians. This legislation is about creating a balance between landlords and tenants. We want to see landlords and tenants working together and helping each other like Territorians do, as we have seen in our communities and heard in stories in the House today. We are providing the pathway to give tenants confidence and for landlords to understand their rights. The legislation implements the National Cabinet principles regarding tenancies. There has not been a uniform approach to taking these principles and this legislation implements them within the Northern Territory legal landscape. I reiterate for those who spoke before; they are quick to comment but you wonder sometimes if they listen when you introduce a bill or they have a briefing. We have limitations on what we can do. Those limitations are in the Self-Government Act. We are doing all that we can to help landlords and tenants. I will not go through all the details of the legislation. I did that a short while ago in the introduction, but the purpose of the bill is to amend the Business Tenancies (Fair Dealings) Act 2003 and the Residential Tenancies Act 1999the Tenancy Acts. The amendments are to enable the Territorys implementation of tenancy relief measures from the National Cabinets response to the COVID-19 global pandemic. As we heard, the amendments will provide me as the minister responsible for the Tenancy Acts with the power to amend or override provisions in the Tenancy Acts or to make new regulatory arrangements for occupancy agreements while the emergency health declarations for COVID-19 are in place. Like equivalent interstate legislation, the laws passed by the Territory parliament do not set out the full detail of the new scheme. We have the notices and they will be gazetted. The ministers power to issue modification notices only exist while the emergency declaration is enforced for COVID-19. Once that emergency period ends the notices automatically cease to apply. These are temporary measures to deal with the emergency situation we are in. We are facing extraordinary times and like other jurisdictions around Australia are passing responsive tenancy legislation and bills in other areas, which are also before the House today. These amendments provide a mechanism that allows a quick reaction to the current emergency, which the current provisions do not allow us to have. Businesses, Territorians, landlords, property owners and tenants are doing it tough. We will continue to work with local businesses and the community to ensure that we support tenants in business and residential tenancy settings. There has to be proven hardship relating to Coronavirus. It simply cannot be that people do not want to pay their rent or they are in arears and they see this as an excuse to get out. Landlords are keen to help tenants through these situationsthose who can afford to do so. But many landlords and property owners are also struggling and have bills to pay. They cannot afford to waive or defer rent. This provides a balance. In my introduction speech I outlined the National Cabinet principles and what the bill intends to do. It can be hard to get the balance of tenants and landlords right but we believe that this legislation during this emergency achieves a fair balance. Territorians want to do the right thing; we have seen that. In closing, I acknowledge the hard-working public servants and the staff who put in long hours on this bill. It does not end here; they have more work to do. Across the government, staff are working hard and long hours on the front line or behind the scenes to keep Territorians safe. I acknowledge the work of the Parliamentary Counsel staff as well. They drafted the three bills here today in a fairly short period. I commend the bill to the Assembly. Motion agreed to; bill read a second time. Mr ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER: A procedural matterthe Member for Nhulunbuy is not on the phone now.
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