Tuesday 24 May, 2016

Mr TARZIA (Hartley) (12:15): I also support the Retirement Villages Bill 2016. Obviously, an amended 2016 version of the 2015 bill was tabled in parliament on 14 April this year, and here we are at the second reading stage.

I have gone through the 47 pages of the bill and, notably, some of the salient points are as follows. When you look at retrospective application, the bill replaces the Retirement Villages Act 1987, and I understand that it will apply to' existing residence contracts and villages, and all future residence contracts and villages'.

Some of the definitions have been altered. The 'administering authority', I note, will be changed to 'operator' plus 'village landowner, senior manager' and 'village manager' being added. I understand that 'premium' will be changed to 'ingoing contribution', with 'exit entitlement, exit fee' and 'capital fund' added. 'Date of contract' will also be removed and changed to 'enters into occupation' and 'vacant possession' added.

In terms of disclosure to prospective residents, it is noted that a statement of disclosure with certain details will have to be given to a prospective resident 10 business days before they actually enter into a residence contract, and other statutory documents that are at the moment given to the resident before the contract also need to be provided at the same time. A premises condition report will no longer be included in documents to be provided to a resident before entering into a contract but will be within 10 business days after entering into occupation. I note that the date for repair or replacement has been deleted.

Cooling off has also been altered and changed from 15 business days to 10 business days, and it will start on the actual date that the resident signs a contract, not the date the last of the parties signs the contract and not on the date the statutory documents are provided. Cooling off, I understand, can also be waived by residents by written notice if they enter into occupation. There has been much talk this morning about the compulsory buyback period. At the moment, it will be 18 months after termination, rather than 12 months, if not previously remarketed. An extension of 18 months will be possible in special circumstances as well, and the buyback at market value will be determined, I understand, by the operator or an independent valuer, whilst the buyback includes an ingoing contribution and capital gain less deductions.

Occupation by the resident during remarketing will be allowed on notice to the operator. There is also an early payment provision. In terms of new residences, the operator under the bill must assume responsibility for fees, charges and other monetary amounts in respect of newly constructed residences not yet subject to a residence contract. There is also a mandatory consultation with the residents' committee in relation to the annual budget clause and, if there is a residents' committee, there must be at least two meetings between the committee and the operator to discuss the budget, unless the committee advises in writing—which is obviously a good thing.

In terms of administrators, receivers and managers, I understand that the minister will be able to apply to the court for an administrator, receiver or manager to be appointed to be paid for by the residents out of recurrent fees. In terms of leases on land, leasing a residence outside the scheme will be limited to new residences not previously occupied and residences where the previous occupant has paid in full. In terms of powers of investigation, they will be expanded under the bill. There will be many more offences, fines and expiation fees. The right to silence has been preserved, but not in all ways.

We on this side of the chamber have had a longstanding concern that the previous act did not go as far as it needed to and that it needed to be updated to reflect the development of the retirement living industry, which is both enormous and essential. I note that members on this side of the chamber were extremely active in the select committee which reviewed the operations of the previous act, and we are frustrated that it has taken so long for the government to bring a bill of this nature to the parliament.

We will be supporting the bill in this house. I have had the privilege of serving an electorate in which there are many retirement villages, and they do an absolutely fantastic job in providing care for our community. In fact, on Monday 18 April I attended the Aveo Glynde Lodge, which is a delightful part of the world in my electorate. They are always very hospitable and I enjoy chatting to the residents. We went to Aveo to hear from the SARVRA representative and to talk to residents and gauge their feedback and concerns about the bill. We discussed several issues that morning, including the balance that needs to exist between residents and operators, and I think this bill maintains a good balance between the two.

There was much talk about the statutory repayment period. I note that there is a petition circulating. I thank the many residents who have presented me with their petition and I share their concerns. I understand that a 12-month statutory repayment provision was initially proposed, and I understand that the feedback has been received by the government.

I would expect the minister, respectfully, in her remarks to address why the government has gone for the 18-month period rather than the 12-month period. I understand the government decided to go for the 18-month period in recognition of unintended consequences which were highlighted by key stakeholders (including residents, industry groups and third-party representatives) during the consultation period.

There are other issues in aged care, such as elder abuse, which can occur. This is a really important issue in our community. Whilst we have very high standards and very good levels of care in our aged communities across the board, we have seen examples of elder abuse in the past. Legislation must always ensure that we continue to protect some of the most financially and physically vulnerable members of our community. Many of these people have paid taxes and have worked for their whole lives, and they deserve respect, dignity and care in their final years. We, as legislators, need to make sure that we do all we can to protect them. It is with those few words that I commend the bill to the house, and I look forward to its passage through this place.