17 September 2013


Hansard of the Legislative Council



AND DISPUTES) BILL 2012 (No. 52)



Mr FINCH (Rosevears) Mr President, plenty has been said on the bill so there is no need for me to go into a great deal of detail. We are dealing with a very large bill, and we are told there has been a considerable consultation period. Someone mentioned eight years, so it has been a long time. Nevertheless, not everyone is happy with the resulting bill, as the member for Elwick mentioned. We go into a briefing situation, which we appreciate very much, but you hear one side and think, 'Yes, I am on the right track, I know where I am going with this', and then you hear the other side of the briefing and think, 'No, hang on, I am leaning that way'. It is six of one, half a dozen of the other, and we are trying to work our way through to a result that is going to make more people happy. It has been interesting to listen to what is being said - some people for, some people against, and some people looking to take the bill into the committee stage.


The member for Huon feels that it is a flawed model and it is going to be difficult to get amendments that might fix it in the committee stage. Although I am of a mind to test it in the committee stage, just to see where we go. The member for Hobart, with his amendments, may help to tidy up the particular section he is dealing with. We heard that the construction industry is on its knees and the Housing Industry Association says this bill is a sledgehammer approach to what should have really been a salve between industry and consumers. Leaving that aside, this bill seeks to address any imbalance between builders and homeowners and to provide a conciliatory process for the resolution of disputes, without resort to costly litigation.


We have heard about the six-month period, and it does not seem to be as speedy a process as some would like. But, whatever the state of the residential building industry, it should not prevent the aim of this legislation. This is a complicated bill and it needs careful consideration. From the research I have done - and I might just put it into Hansard - in disputes between a builder and a homeowner as to alleged defects in construction, the homeowner is often at a disadvantage as the terms of the contract are frequently in favour of the builder. This bill seeks to redress any imbalance and provide a conciliatory process for resolution of disputes without resort to costly litigation.


The objective of the provisions of the bill is to avoid costly litigation by conciliation. That objective will only be achieved if the conciliator is properly qualified to carry out that responsibility. Care will be needed to ensure that only properly accredited persons are appointed as conciliators and that a properly qualified conciliator experienced in matters arising in a particular conciliation is appointed for that conciliation proceeding.


This is a lengthy and complicated piece of legislation and I am prepared to move it into the committee stage to carry out the scrutiny in more detail.