Dr WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for WORKPLACE SAFETY and CONSUMER AFFAIRS, Ms ARCHER
As we have highlighted previously, the Tasmanian Residential Rental Property Owners Association spent much of the state election campaigning against the Greens and Independent Kristie Johnston and promoting the Liberal Party and its candidate, Simon Behrakis. In budget Estimates you confirmed to us that the association made a formal request for government funding on 13 May.
On 14 May, association president, Louise Elliot, announced on Twitter that she would be running for election to the Hobart City Council. The Government advised the association its request for $100 000 of funding had been successful in June. This bogus association, which still lacks a secretary, has a recent history of electioneering in support of your Government's policies. The intention of its president to run for political office was already a matter of public record when this funding decision was made.
What conditions were written into the grant deed to ensure that these funds are used appropriately and not for political purposes?
Ms O'Connor - Did you see the big half page splash in the Mercury? A nice shot of Louise Elliot on the weekend. The council campaign is going beautifully on the taxpayers' dime.
Mr SPEAKER - Order.
Mr Speaker, I thank the member for Franklin for her question. These matters were addressed at budget Estimates.
Ms O'Connor - Not to our satisfaction.
Ms ARCHER - I addressed the purpose for which the funding was provided, the detail in relation to the date the request was made, and that this is nothing extraordinary because we provide funding to a number of different organisations including the Tenants' Union of Tasmania -
Dr Woodruff - That's the problem, it's casual.
Ms ARCHER - It is not casual -
Dr Woodruff - You do it without thinking about it. Hand out money without any questions asked.
Mr SPEAKER - Member for Franklin, order. You have asked the question. Allow the minister to answer it.
Ms ARCHER - Mr Speaker, I note that the Greens would defund the Tasmanian Residential Rental Property Owners Association. In a recent Mercury article, Ms O'Connor was quoted as saying that her alternative budget was a fully costed vision for the future. The figure in the Greens alternative budget - and at least they did bother to prepare an alternative budget as we acknowledged - listed the funding at $500 000 per year.
Ms O'Connor - No, $50 000 a year.
Ms ARCHER - You added a zero and then they would defund it, so I hardly think the Greens are on top of this issue when they cannot even, in their own alternative budget, defund something appropriately. They have added an additional zero.
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Mr Speaker, standing order 45, relevance. Perhaps in the interests of taxpayers, the minister could tell us what conditions were written into the grant deed to ensure these funds are used appropriately?
Mr SPEAKER - It is not a point of order to repeat the question, Ms O'Connor. You know that. Sit down, Ms O'Connor.
Ms ARCHER - Mr Speaker, because this organisation was new it was to establish and set up the group. The membership tends to have less experience in managing rental properties. It was not made up of people who were represented by a real estate agent, for example. They are managing their own properties. They have less knowledge of their obligations under the Residential Tenancy Act 1997 and therefore, inadvertently, there can be disputes. It is to largely assist with that.
I went through the conditions and, if I need to come in with the exact wording of what I did say at Estimates, there was correspondence back from the Premier, in his role as Treasurer, identifying what it was to be used for. I read that out at budget Estimates -
Dr Woodruff - You did not say what they were.
Mr SPEAKER - Order.
Ms ARCHER - I read that out at budget Estimates, Mr Speaker. I don't have the Hansard in front of me but the members know that I answered that question at budget Estimates.
Dr Woodruff - You did not answer that question.
Mr SPEAKER - Order.
Ms ARCHER - If I need to come in with further information to repeat what I said at budget Estimates, I am very willing to so. As members know, I answered that question. They know that the request came specifically as a budget submission and that was looked at in the ordinary course of all budget submissions. A response was provided with the funding that they would get, $50 000 per annum, only for two years for the set-up costs to familiarise their members with their obligations under the Residential Tenancy Act 1997, so we can help resolve disputes - or even prevent disputes between landlords and tenants from occurring in the first place.