18 May 2023
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (15:52): I move:
That this council—
1. Acknowledges that housing is unaffordable for the most vulnerable South Australians with the 2023 Anglicare Rental Affordability Snapshot reporting for the weekend of 18 March 2023 that:
(a) zero rental properties were affordable and available for a single person receiving a Jobseeker, Youth Allowance, or a parenting payment;
(b) two rental properties were affordable and available for a couple receiving Jobseeker; and
(c) nine rental properties were affordable and available for a single person on the minimum wage.
2. Notes that the government has undertaken a review of the Residential Tenancies Act where:
(a) public consultation ran from 15 November 2022 to 16 December 2022;
(b) 5,565 survey responses were received; and
(c) 155 written submissions were received.
3. Calls on the Malinauskas government to publicly release the submissions to and the report of the review of the Residential Tenancies Act.
The motion that I am proposing today is a simple one. It notes some of the latest concerning data relating to the housing crisis but it also calls on the Malinauskas government to release all of the submissions received as part of its review of the Residential Tenancies Act and to release the findings of the review that the government has conducted.
The government opened up public consultation in November and December of last year and it is very curious to me that the government would conduct a review, invite members of the community to participate and then have those submissions just disappear into the ether somewhere. The government, I understand, has received more than 5,000 responses on the YourSAy website and over 150 written submissions. Surely those submissions should be published on the government's website so that members of the community could access them.
It is interesting to observe that during a debate the other day there was some discussion in this place about submissions, and the Hon. Clare Scriven referenced submissions relating to the national inquiry into banking. The minister would not be able to make a similar rhetorical comment in relation to submissions on the government's inquiry into residential tenancies because none of the submissions have been published on the website. It is not clear who actually has made a submission. The Greens made a submission outlining some of our concerns and the issues that we wanted to see addressed as part of this review of the Residential Tenancies Act, but it is not clear to me who else is engaged with the process.
The other important point to make here is that the government requested that the Commissioner for Consumer and Business Services, Dini Soulio, conduct this review. They have concluded the review. I am assuming they have made recommendations to the government. What are those recommendations? We do not know. What we have seen is a bill dealing with the rental crisis that has been proposed. It has passed the House of Assembly and it is coming to this place fairly soon. But that bill does not go far enough in terms of dealing with the scale of the rental crisis that we confront.
The government's bill looks at banning rent bidding, but only partially banning rent bidding. What the government is proposing is that landlords will not be able to advertise a property for rent within a range, but if a prospective tenant goes to the real estate agent and says, 'I am going to offer more than the asking price', that is okay. That does not seem to me to be a satisfactory approach.
I would like to know what submissions advocated such a feeble approach to such a complex issue, and I would also like to see what level of community support there is for dealing with the other issues in the rental market; that is, the need to end no-cause evictions, the need to legislate in favour of renting with pets, and the need to crackdown on some of the unfair practices that have been exposed within the real estate industry, things like lack of disclosure of conflict of interest.
Has there been advocacy around the need for an independent body to advocate for tenants? These are all issues that the Greens intend to explore when the government's bill comes before this place, but I think it would be very useful if the government were to heed the call of the Greens, release the report, the findings of this review, along with the submissions, so that all members of parliament, and indeed the broader community, have the benefit of access to this information. With that, I conclude my remarks.
Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. L.A. Henderson.