Tuesday, 5 December 2017
I, and also on behalf of Senator Hinch, move:
That the Senate—
(a) notes the article in The Age, on 15 November 2017, regarding the residents of Berkeley Living retirement village in Victoria;
(b) acknowledges that there have been problems with the retirement villages sector for many years and that there was a parliamentary inquiry that looked at issues within the retirement villages sector in 2007;
(c) recognises that the situation of Berkeley Living residents is yet another example of how a lack of regulation and standards in this industry have allowed poor practices to flourish;
(d) notes that retirement villages were on the agenda for the meeting, on 31 August 2017, of Consumer Affairs Ministers and that it was agreed to direct the Chartered Accountants of Australia & New Zealand to undertake further investigation into the regulation of retirement villages, including identifying any regulatory gaps that allow unfair practices to occur; and
(e) urges the Federal Government to take a leadership role in developing nationally-consistent regulation of retirement housing across the various tenures that provides strong protections to residents and their families.
Retirement village regulations are a matter for the state and territory governments. The Commonwealth is concerned with recent examples of poor practice, which is why the Minister for Small Business took this matter to the consumer affairs forum. At the meeting, the Commonwealth state and territory consumer affairs ministers agreed that officials from their departments would review each jurisdiction's existing laws and regulations to identify any gaps between state laws and the Australian Consumer Law. This work should be allowed to reach its conclusion, noting there are a number of states already taking action.