My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Consumer Affairs.
It is about the ongoing delay in the Government’s response to the report of the Legal and Social Issues Committee’s Inquiry into the retirement housing sector that was tabled in March 2017.
Of all the matters canvassed by the committee in that report, the two to which I would like to direct the most immediate attention are covered by Recommendations 2 and 15. Respectively, they called on the Government to:
- review the Retirement Villages Act 1986, following sector-wide concerns especially around dispute resolution and transparency of disclosures; and
- introduce a new alternative for low cost, timely and binding resolution of disputes, through a new body or by extending the powers of an existing ombudsman.
I wholeheartedly support both those recommendations, because they speak to changes which are still clearly and urgently needed.
I should stress, of course (as indeed that committee did), that there are also a myriad of other pressing issues adversely affecting people living in retirement housing in Victoria. I have touched on some of those in previous speeches here, and I hope to have the opportunity to raise more of them here in the not too distant future.
But, for the sake of a contribution in which I am limited to speaking for no longer than three minutes … I do want to focus for the moment on those two very specific and complementary recommendations.
Even as recently as last month, the Minister for Consumer Affairs was still saying the Government is committed to holding the review and further considering dispute resolution processes in retirement villages.
So, set against all of that background, the action I seek from the Minister is the provision of a definitive statement on the public record about when the review of the Retirement Villages Act 1986 will specifically begin. As well as when a new body or extension of the powers of an existing ombudsman will be enacted to protect consumers. In turn, I also ask that the Minister specify who is conducting the review, what its terms of reference are, and when it will report.
Given that the Legal and Social Issues Committee completed its deliberations well over two years ago now, I am sure I am far from the first Member in this place to raise the subject of the lack of a timely and comprehensive response to their inquiry.
But I am sincerely hoping – in a good way – that I am the last.