18 May 2020
The second tranche of emergency health and economic legislation passed the Parliament last week. There were three bills covering around 40 significant changes across multiple portfolios and acts. Some provisions were clearly necessary, like facilitating reporting of deaths not related to coronavirus to determine any emerging trends. Others were concerning, such as increased power to the executive government over the budget and elected councils. During debate I called for greater transparency and accountability and welcomed the return to regular Parliamentary sittings in June.
There were big tenancy wins after weeks of negotiating with government and bringing case studies of tenants in the electorate who are facing hardship. The night before Parliament sat the minister’s office called me to say they agreed to my request to ensure tenants who are on a fixed lease are not forced to pay exorbitant fees if they break their lease: the bill was updated. Clearer information on Fair Trading’s website was also posted in response to my concerns that landlords and tenants need to know their rights and responsibilities. Unfortunately there are no changes to prevent the use of no-grounds evictions during the pandemic on tenants who cannot pay high rents. I welcomed new strata laws to enable electronic voting in all schemes and cash transfers between funds – changes I called for early on in the pandemic. My speech: HERE – or watch it at HERE
Parliament is expected to go back to timetable on 2 June albeit with fewer members.