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Building and Construction – Genuine or Just Evictions

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Tags: Evictions, Tenant Rights

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, of the Cabinet documents that were made public earlier this year, a Cabinet decision from 24 August 2020 records that Cabinet deliberated on the material submission in relation to the Residential Tenancy Amendment Bill 2020 and decided to vacate the previous Cabinet decision with regard to the Director of Housing v Parsons matter and not to proceed with the proposed amendment to remove the 'genuine or just' requirement in the context of an order for vacant possession. What was your rationale for this decision, given that it was only overturned during a pandemic but was made in the midst of a housing crisis?

Ms ARCHER - Dr Woodruff, I cannot and will not go into confidential deliberations of Cabinet. You got your hands on those Cabinet documents through an unfortunate situation. I am not going to go through all of that. You have been through it in numerous debates in the House.

Cabinet deliberates on a range of matters. We seek and take advice, we make decisions and we also unmake decisions. What is relevant here is that there is no change to the law. I have made that absolutely clear to the House and I don't see the point of you raising these matters which are Cabinet deliberations when I have unequivocally answered the question. There will be no changes to the law in this area and specifically the section to which it refers. If you continue to ask questions on this matter, you're going to get the same answer because I am not going to discuss what deliberations occurred in Cabinet.

Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you. I ask questions on behalf of people who are concerned to know the answers. Whether you think they are important questions, that is up to you, but the question -

Ms ARCHER - No, that's not what I said, Chair.

Dr WOODRUFF - I'm not verballing you in saying that.

Ms ARCHER - She is verballing me.

Dr WOODRUFF - The minister was interrupting my question, Chair.

CHAIR - Yes, and you were verballing the minister.

Dr WOODRUFF - I was not.

CHAIR - You were inciting; that is what you were doing.

Dr WOODRUFF - Chair, I can't help it if the minister reads that in a very fragile way. I said if you don't think it is important, I didn't say you said it's not important.

Ms ARCHER - I am glad you agree I'm fragile, Dr Woodruff.

CHAIR - Perhaps move on to your next question, Dr Woodruff.

Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you, Chair. Minister, don't you agree that the decision that was taken that was subsequently reversed to remove the 'genuine and just' requirement would have increased homelessness because people it would have applied to would have been exited into no housing option left to them.

Ms ARCHER - As I have confirmed to the House and to the Tenants Union, everybody else is satisfied that we don't have any plans to amend section 45(3B) of the Residential Tenancy Act 1997 so I don't see the point in you going over this old ground when I have absolutely no intention of amending that section.

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, I believe you said before that you will not be proceeding with any amendments to the Residential Tenancy Act to remove the genuine or just requirement for vacant possession or eviction. Can you rule out that you will also take any further legal action such as a High Court appeal to the Director of Housing v Parsons matter which the minister wouldn't rule out last year? Can you please explain why you made the decision not to proceed, why you have come to that decision in the end?

Ms ARCHER - I said I'm not going to discuss Cabinet deliberations.

Dr WOODRUFF - I am not talking about the Cabinet. I'm just talking about why you said -

Ms ARCHER - You've asked me why I came to that decision. That was the subject of Cabinet deliberations so I'm not going to answer that. As to whether we would appeal, the Department of Communities is not my department so it's not for me to appeal that but given I have ruled out any change to that particular section, I can't see a reason why we would.