Thursday, 18 November 2021

Government can’t decide what’s in the public interest


“The Government should issue extensions to landlords unable to meet Healthy Homes Standards as a result of the COVID-19 alert levels,” says ACT Deputy Leader and Housing spokesperson Brooke van Velden. 

“ACT asked Associate Housing Minister Poto Williams through Parliamentary Written Questions what advice she has received about landlords being unable to fulfil their obligations. 

“Despite being part of the “most open and transparent Government ever,” Williams has refused to release the advice, claiming it’s not in the public interest. Today in Parliament, after pressure from the ACT Party, she changed her mind and said she now consulting with the industry. 

“Through no fault of their own some landlords won’t be able to meet the deadlines. The Government needs to show common sense and give them an extension. 

“Housing Minister Megan Woods told Parliament yesterday that if landlords can’t comply “the (tenancy) tribunal will apply a degree of pragmatism and consideration and be reasonable.” This implies pressure to the judiciary from politicians that would be highly inappropriate. 

“When asked by me about this in Parliament today, Williams said the judiciary is independent, so how does the Government know whether pragmatism will be applied? 

“ACT believes that landlords who have been unable to meet the deadline because of COVID should have the deadline extended until 90-days after their region enters the Traffic Light system. 

“The Government has given itself until mid-2023 to meet the standard, the least it can do is give private landlords a few months. 

“Landlords I talk to want to do the right thing, Williams should give them some breathing room since it’s her Government preventing them from doing so.”