RLC in Hansard: Residential Tenancies and Housing Legislation Amendment (Public Housing—Antisocial Behaviour) Bill 2015, Hon Fred Nile

The Hon Fred Nile, Reverend. 14 October 2015

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I put on record the help and advice I received from Natalie Bradshaw, who is a solicitor and tenants advocate at the Redfern Legal Centre. The centre and other tenants representatives would like to go a lot further than perhaps I have gone, but I have tried to deal with the issues that Ms Bradshaw raised with me.

I assume the same issues were raised with The Greens and the Opposition. In moving the amendments, I note that we can focus on tenants in social housing or on all those in social housing who are affected by disruptive, antisocial, illegal or fraudulent behaviour by their neighbours. I believe this is the best approach to take when dealing with this legislation.

The bill is designed to make social housing a safer place for vulnerable people. That is why we could not support all the amendments moved by Ms Jan Barham, who has done a lot of work on this issue, and the amendments moved by the Hon. Adam Searle on behalf of the Opposition. I believe my amendments are a step in the right direction in increasing the tribunal's ability to act on behalf of tenants.

Under these proposed amendments, for some types of serious illegal behaviour involving the use of premises for illegal purposes automatic termination of a tenancy by the tribunal would not apply when the serious behaviour was perpetrated by a person who was not the tenant and the tribunal is satisfied that the tenant did not know or could not reasonably have known about the act, was not complicit in the act or failed to take reasonable steps to prevent or report the act.

I was given a number of examples. In the case of a normal family in social housing a member of that family, perhaps a teenager or a 20-year-old or 30-year-old son has engaged in serious antisocial behaviour, such as drug dealing. In most cases the tenant would be a single mother who does not support that antisocial behaviour. If we were not careful the whole family could be punished and forced to leave social housing. That is why I prepared these amendments.

We have also proposed that when considering whether to terminate a tenancy due to serious illegal behaviour the tribunal not be obligated to terminate the tenancy if that would likely result in undue hardship being suffered by a particular person such as a child, a person in whose favour an apprehended violence order could be made or a person suffering from a disability.

As I said, this is a small step and some members would rather go further, but I believe that would then change the purpose of the legislation. Therefore, these amendments are satisfactory from our party's point of view and we move them for consideration by the Committee.