Ms O’CONNOR question to MINISTER for JUSTICE, Ms ARCHER
This year’s Budget includes funding of $100 000 over two years for the Tasmanian Residential Property Owners Association. The Budget states that this funding was for the association to ‘provide additional assistance to Tasmania’s rental owners’. They would be the ones whose properties are soaring in value right now.
The Tasmanian Residential Property Owners Association is not a peak body. It does not provide services, it does not represent a majority of property owners, it is not the only property owners’ association in the state. It charges membership fees. It even states on its website its desire to be ‘protected from reliance on Government funds’. Yet, here we are. As recently as last week the Tasmanian Residential Property Owners Association’s social media channels were promoting the candidacy of Louise Elliot, the association’s president, for election to Hobart City Council.
Can you explain for what purpose and public benefit does the Tasmanian Residential Property Owners Association need $100 000? Why is this money not being spent in an area of need like helping the Tenants’ Union open a northern office? Do you think it is appropriate for a body receiving government funding to be promoting political candidates? Brought in under 40 seconds, thanks.
Mr Speaker, I thank the Leader of the Greens for her constant interest in this area. What have you got against landlords? Can I distinguish between, by the way this is a portfolio of Consumer Affairs, not Justice, because residential tenancy –
Ms O’Connor – Whatever, answer the question.
Ms ARCHER – You may continue to be rude and interject on me but you want an answer.
Mr Speaker, the Tenants’ Union of Tasmania receives its funding in the legal assistance sector, quite correctly under Justice, with other community legal assistance providers. There has been no greater supporter of the Tenants’ Union than this Government, not only throughout COVID-19 but additional funding through the National Legal Assistance Partnership with the federal government. They are provided with federal funding, they are provided with top-up funding across the sector of $2.1 million or $2.2 million, I do not have the figure in front of me. Part of that figure will go to the Tenants’ Union. I thank Ben Bartl in particular and all his hard-working staff for their contribution throughout COVID 19 and also their thanks and appreciation for government funding, not only ordinarily but also on top of that during COVID 19.
The Government provided significant funds for rental assistance to tenants throughout COVID-19. The House is fully aware of the Rent Relief Fund and the extensions on four occasions
Ms O’CONNOR – Point of order, Mr Speaker, standing order 45, relevance. We are not talking about this. We are talking about $100 000 that went to Louise Elliott’s group.
Mr SPEAKER – The question was put with a lot of leniency and a lot of preamble. The minister now has the opportunity to address all those issues as she wishes.
Ms ARCHER – Thank you, Mr Speaker. I urge the Leader of the Greens to be a little bit patient. It is important for me to set her straight on the amount of funding that has been provided across the sector.
The association to which you refer came to the Government for initial start-up funding. That has been provided. Regarding what the Government provides in the Budget, it is appropriate for stakeholders and peak bodies to make budget submissions, as was the case. That seed funding has been provided over a two-year period for that association to provide advocacy from their membership group. Landlords have a significant interest in what is going on in the rental market at the moment.
Mr Ferguson – They are part of the solution.
Ms ARCHER – They are part of the solution, thank you. We need to ensure that landlords and tenants continue to work together, as they did throughout COVID-19 –
Ms O’CONNOR – Point of order, Mr Speaker, on relevance. Perhaps you could ask the minister to tell the House what public benefit and purpose that money was for?
Mr SPEAKER – It is not a point of order. I cannot ask the minister to tell anybody anything, except she now has the call. I will ask the minister to start to wind up, please.
Ms ARCHER – I did address that in saying that a Budget submission was made and the Government was happy to provide that seed funding to ensure that landlords have adequate advocacy as well.
Ms O’Connor – For Louise Elliott’s bid for council?
Mr SPEAKER – Order, Ms O’Connor. Stop your interjecting.
Ms ARCHER – The amount that we provide the Tenants’ Union far exceeds what has been provided here. Ms O’Connor wants to highlight that she clearly has a grievance and an issue with landlords –
Ms O’Connor – I do not.
Ms ARCHER – and the free market. She continues to want to cap rents. Go right ahead, but the Government will support both tenants and landlords. We will continue our significant support of the Tenants’ Union of Tasmania.
I place on the record my thanks and appreciation for them working with the Government at the height of COVID-19 and for fully supporting our Rent Relief Fund both for landlords and tenants, significantly for tenants. Ms O’Connor can continue to gripe about this on the sidelines.