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Parliamentary update: 12 to 14 October 2021

Queensland Parliament sat from 12 to 14 October 2021.

Bills introduced

Small Business Commissioner Bill 2021

The Small Business Commissioner Bill 2021 was introduced into the Legislative Assembly on 12 October 2021 by the Minister for Employment and Small Business and Minister for Training and Skills Development, Di Farmer.

The Bill was referred to the parliamentary Education, Employment and Training Committee. Submissions on this Bill are due by Thursday, 28 October 2021. See more information on the committee inquiry.

The Bill proposes to establish the Queensland Small Business Commissioner (Commissioner) and a supporting office on a permanent basis. The Commissioner and the supporting office will be responsible for providing tailored support and advice to small businesses in Queensland. According to the explanatory notes, the Bill will:

  • Provide the power to appoint a commissioner.
  • Provide the mediation process for the commissioner to mediate disputes relating to retail tenancy disputes, other small business lease disputes and small business franchise disputes.
  • Provide regulation-making powers to, among other objectives, prescribe fees and the practices and procedures of the mediation process the commissioner will administer.
  • Provide other miscellaneous provisions to support the operation of the Act.

Useful resources:

Legislation passed this Parliament

The following legislation was passed by the Legislative Assembly:

  • Housing Legislation Amendment Bill 2021
  • Resources and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2021

Housing Legislation Amendment Bill 2021

The Housing Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 was introduced into the Legislative Assembly by the Minister for Communities and Housing, Minister for Digital Economy and Minister for the Arts, Leeanne Enoch, on 18 June 2021. The Bill was passed with amendment on 14 October 2021 following an inquiry by the parliamentary Community Support and Services Committee.

The Bill amends the:

  • Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008
  • Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Regulation 2020
  • Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Regulation 2009
  • Retirement Villages Act 1999.

As outlined in the explanatory notes, the Bill delivers on key objectives contained in the Queensland Housing Strategy 2017-2027, including:

  • Modernisation – a commitment to reviewing and modernising rental laws to better protect tenants and lessors and improve housing stability in the rental market.
  • Connections – ensuring that vulnerable community members are supported to sustain tenancies in appropriate and secure housing that facilitates social, economic, and cultural participation.
  • Confidence – supporting a fair and responsive housing system through reforms to legislation and regulations that enhance the safety and dignity of all Queenslanders and promote the provision of a range of housing options that meet the diverse needs of Queenslanders.

The objectives of the Bill in relation to the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 are to:

  • Support tenants and residents to enforce their existing rights by removing the ability for lessors and providers to end tenancies without grounds.
  • Provide an expanded suite of additional approved reasons for lessors/providers and tenants/residents to end a tenancy.
  • Ensure all Queensland rental properties are safe, secure, and functional by prescribing minimum housing standards and introducing compliance mechanisms to strengthen the ability to enforce these standards.
  • Strengthen rental law protections for people experiencing domestic and family violence.
  • Support parties to residential leases reach agreement about renting with pets.

The objectives of the Bill in relation to the Retirement Villages Act 1999 are to:

  • Provide certainty, security, and peace of mind to residents of freehold resident-operated retirement villages.
  • Implement the intent of recommendations made during an independent review of timeframes for payment of exit entitlements in Queensland retirement villages.
  • Create a framework to exempt freehold resident-operated retirement villages from the 18-month mandatory buyback requirements under the Retirement Villages Act 1999.

The amendments to the Bill seek to improve clarity and address minor drafting errors, including:

  • Clarifying the effect of a vacating tenant’s or resident’s interest in a rental agreement ending due to domestic and family violence where multiple tenants or residents are parties to the agreement.
  • Ensuring the familial relationships to be recognised for the purposes of a notice to leave for owner occupation align with existing terms in the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 to reduce legislative complexity.
  • Applying relevant offences and misuse provisions to the ending of rooming accommodation agreements.
  • Making minor drafting corrections.

QLS made a submission to the inquiry into this Bill and appeared at the public hearing. QLS suggested generally the Bill found the right balance between the rights of landlords and the rights of tenants, but in some respects, the Bill gets the balance wrong.

QLS expressed concerns about removing the right of a landlord to end a periodic agreement except for a few specified reasons, as it is inconsistent with the fundamental principle of freedom of contract. It’s also inconsistent with the essential feature of a periodic agreement, namely its flexibility.

Security of tenure for tenants is important but QLS disagreed with using the mechanisms in the Bill to achieve that policy objective. It will discourage periodic tenancies, reduce housing stock for short-term rental and require parties in conflict to remain in a landlord/tenant relationship.

Other policy levers are available to improve the security of tenure for tenants, such as increased funding for community legal centres to support tenants who experience retaliatory termination and encouraging landlords to offer longer fixed-term leases.

QLS suggested investigating incentives for landlords to offer longer-term tenancies, noting the effective use of land tax relief during the pandemic.

QLS also welcomed the reforms to support tenants to escape domestic and family violence and considered that the provisions for tenants with pets have found much the right balance.

Useful resources:

Resources and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2021

The Resources and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 was introduced into the Legislative Assembly by the Minister for Resources, Scott Stewart, on 16 June 2021. The Bill was passed with amendment on 13 October 2021 following an inquiry by the parliamentary Transport and Resources Committee.

The Bill amends the:

  • Mineral Resources Act 1989
  • Petroleum Act 1923
  • South-East Queensland Water (Distribution and Retail Restructuring) Act 2009
  • Transport Operations (Passenger Transport) Act 1994
  • Water Supply (Safety and Reliability) Act 2008

The Bill repeals the:

  • Personalised Transport Ombudsman Act 2019

The purpose of the Bill is:

  • To clarify the legal standing of certain historically granted tenures, activities and entitlements under the Mineral Resources Act 1989 and Petroleum Act 1923.
  • To repeal the Personalised Transport Ombudsman Act 2019 and make minor consequential amendments to the Transport Operations (Passenger Transport) Act 1994.
  • To ensure water restrictions can be equitably investigated and enforced across the South East Queensland region by amending the South East Queensland Water (Distribution and Retail Restructuring) Act 2009 to align with the powers local government water service providers have under the Local Government Act 2009.
  • To exclude cyber security measures, reported to the Water Supply Regulator, from being made publicly available to mitigate the risk of malicious attacks on water service providers and water supply schemes by amending the Water Supply (Safety and Reliability) Act 2008.

Useful resources:

Adjournments

The second reading to the Queensland Veterans’ Council Bill 2021 was adjourned on 14 October 2021.

Subordinate legislation

Subordinate Queensland Legislation notified in 2021 is available online.

Subordinate Legislation notified on the Queensland Legislation website from 24 September 2021 to 15 October 2021.

Queensland Government Gazette

The Queensland Government Gazettes for 2021 are available online.

Parliamentary sitting dates

As indicated on the parliamentary website, the Queensland Parliament is currently scheduled to next sit on 26 to 28 October 2021.

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