Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, I support the principle of the bill. I have similar questions to that of the member for Hobart. Anything that gives ministerial power to enable rental or lease longer than the 12-month period, even if it is at a market rate, to someone from outside their portfolio area does warrant a good look to see how it could work in practice.
I think about some of the various portfolio-owned properties on the west coast. You might have properties for teachers, police, or nurses to live in, which go across different portfolios. For example, there may be an Education department property not being used. Maybe the school has reduced its staffing levels because the student numbers have diminished. All the teachers may be from the west coast and have their own properties. For whatever reason, the properties are not being used by Education, but we have more nurses in the area. Effectively, the minister could approve a nurse or a doctor to lease that property for a period longer than 12 months. Should the demand in the school rise and we need that for Education again, how do we deal with that? Does the tenancy then come under the Residential Tenancy Act in terms of notice periods? If they have signed a lease for three years, what happens at that point?
It is interesting how this can work in practice. It makes a lot of sense not to have properties under-utilised or empty. Particularly on the west coast, they deteriorate quickly in those circumstances. There is benefit from having properties utilised in that way. As the member for Hobart was alluding to, I am interested in how one portfolio understands the needs of another.
What happens when there is a conflict in the future? Is there a process of avoiding seeing favours done? The minister sees that he has a mate who lives on the west coast. He or she could do with a lease for three years on his property. We should not need it for the police for that time, so favourable treatment may be given. I am not suggesting that will happen, but with the ministerial power to make that decision, there needs to be a process to avoid the perception, or reality, of that occurring. Perceptions can be reality in the minds of the community.
It allows for a period longer than 12 months for a property to be leased. I understand the need for that in aged care facilities. That makes eminent sense in that area. If we are looking at individual properties, and I assume this does apply to individual properties, then under what circumstances would you need to have a lease longer than 12 months if there is a potential to be a change of use, or a need from the portfolio area under which the property actually sits?
It makes sense to remove some of these false barriers to fully utilising properties and giving some certainty to users like aged care facilities. The process is not well articulated in the bill and I would like to understand that better. I support the bill in principle.
[3.10 p.m.]Go Back