Government still failing to establish a Retirement Housing Ombudsman | Australian Greens

Government still failing to establish a Retirement Housing Ombudsman

The Government is failing older people in endlessly deliberating about establishing a retirement housing ombudsman and failing renters by introducing rental reforms with little time to get them through parliament before the election.
Wednesday, May 9, 2018 - 9:00am
Lidia Thorpe

Lidia Thorpe - Question in Parliament: My question is for the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation. In March last year the inquiry into the retirement housing sector recommended the government establish a retirement housing ombudsman to resolve disputes in retirement housing. It has now been more than a year and we have seen no action from this government but elders in our communities continue to be ripped off and unfairly treated. Minister, when will this government finally introduce an ombudsman for retirement housing?

Ms KAIROUZ (Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation) — I thank the member for Northcote for her question. The government is aware of stakeholder views that the Retirement Villages Act 1986 has not kept pace with changes in the sector. The government has responded to the inquiry report into the retirement villages sector made by the Legislative Council Legal and Social Issues Committee, and the government is supporting key recommendations that clarify and improve the rights of residents of retirement villages. Work is well and truly underway or has been completed on a number of the inquiry’s recommendations, with key aspects of  the Retirement Villages Act having recently been reviewed or currently under review, including through the consumer property law review.

The Andrews Labor government supports a review into the Retirement Villages Act 1986, undertaken in order to improve consumer protections while allowing for growth and innovation in the sector. The review will pick up many of the discrete recommendations for reform made by the inquiry, which are supported by our government. A number of the inquiry’s recommendations require substantial additional investigation and analysis and actions, which the government has committed to. The government appreciates that there is significant concern about
dispute resolution in the retirement housing sector, and is undertaking further investigation into the inquiry’s recommendation that it introduce a new alternative, low-cost dispute resolution body for the retirement housing sector.

Supplementary question

Ms THORPE (Northcote)  — Minister, people right across our community are facing housing stress. Not only are retirees being ripped off but rents are going up while renters are still waiting for the rental changes you promised during the Northcote by-election. Minister, can the community expect an ombudsman or your promised rental reforms before the election, or were they just hollow promises?

Ms KAIROUZ (Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation)  — I thank the member for her very important question. The Andrews Labor government’s plan for fairer, safer housing outlines a vision for ensuring everybody has access to safe, secure and affordable housing, and this is part of our vision. In relation to the promises that we have made during the Northcote by-election, we stick to our promises. We have committed to them, and we will honour each and every one of our commitments. We will be making further announcements later on this year, and I will not pre-empt the time in which we will introduce legislation.