SALE OF LAND AMENDMENT BILL 2019
Mr J BULL (Sunbury) (16:53:01): I am very pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to debate on the Sale of Land Amendment Bill 2019.
I think the previous speaker, the member for Footscray, raised some very important points in her contribution, significantly around planning and around housing, and this bill goes a long way, I do believe, to making the system fairer for those getting into the housing market.
I also had the opportunity to hear the important contributions from the members for Cranbourne and Tarneit. I do believe in their contributions they mentioned that this was the first time they had had an opportunity to speak on bills in this house. Just listening to those very important contributions it is clear that they are very much champions of their local communities, even in the early stages of our second term in government. I was reflecting on those speeches and thinking how impressive they were, certainly in comparison to my first bill speech. This bill will be well supported in my community and I believe right across the state. Primarily this bill is about fairness, and this government stands for fairness no matter your background, no matter your faith and no matter your ethnicity.
This government understands how hard Victorians work and how hard Victorians strive to support their families to live a healthy, productive life in the local community. As so many members have mentioned this afternoon, this state is of course growing at a rapid rate, and why wouldn’t it be. There are so many good reasons to come to this terrific state of Victoria. There are new jobs—exciting jobs—and an incredible record of infrastructure like the big projects as part of our big, bold agenda such as removing level crossings, the Melbourne Metro project, the West Gate Tunnel, the north-east link and the airport rail link. These huge, innovative, exciting projects are going to make a significant difference to this state. I thank the member for Frankston for his assistance and for his incredibly hard work in his community. Look, the list goes on. We heard earlier today in question time some information about the Solar Homes package, an important package that is going to make a significant difference to Victorians right across the state.
This bill does so much for those buying new properties. Speaking about growth, we know what an extraordinary amount of projects are in the pipeline, and these—including this being a terrific arts, culture and major events capital of the nation—are reasons why people are coming to Victoria each and every day. They are coming to communities like mine, to growth corridor communities, in Sunbury but also places like Cranbourne and Tarneit.
These are new communities that are growing very, very quickly. This bill—and I know the member for Forest Hill is very determined to glean some more information on this bill—is fundamentally important for those communities, for growth corridor communities, because it enhances a range of protections that apply to buying a first home. I listened to the member for Ivanhoe in his contribution, and he did discuss that really important and significant decision of buying a home. It is an incredibly important financial decision for individuals, for couples and for families. In many respects buying a home is the biggest financial investment people will make in their lives, and it is incredibly important that there are safeguards and a range of measures that protect these buyers.
Many Victorians, whether they are born here, whether they come here from another state or whether they come here from overseas expect and deserve these safeguards and this surety when looking at the housing market. It is why today’s bill is so important and why I wholeheartedly support this bill. Currently there exist a set of rules and a set of circumstances that in many respects put the buyer last, certainly in some electorates, whether they be my electorate of Sunbury or electorates like Yuroke—I can see the member for Yuroke over there listening intently—Yan Yean, Cranbourne, Tarneit or Melton.
These are a significant growth corridors, and this is why this bill is incredibly important. As we have heard this afternoon the Sale of Land Act 1962 will be amended to prevent developers from unfairly rescinding signed residential, off-the-plan contracts under sunset clauses in order to take advantage of increased property prices that would otherwise benefit purchasers. The bill will also address predatory conduct in the alternative housing finance sector by prohibiting unaffordable and high-risk terms contracts for lower value residential property and rent-to-buy arrangements, closing the regulatory gap that has enabled unregulated and problematic land banking schemes to flourish, strengthening the existing offence of fraudulently concealing material facts about a property for sale with the intention of inducing another person to buy that property and restricting public auctions of land from being conducted before 1.00 p.m. on Anzac Day, an important provision that I think is well supported right across the state.
Off-the-plan contracts, as you would well be aware, commonly include a clause enabling the vendor to terminate or end the contract if the plan of subdivision for the relevant development has not been registered by a specified date. These matters have received a great deal of press in recent times and have certainly been raised with me as the local member. Some contractors may also allow a purchaser to end the contract if the plan has not been registered by a specific date, and this is also of note. The bill will amend the Sale of Land Act 1962 to prevent vendors from ending a residential off-the-plan contract pursuant to a sunset clause without the purchaser’s consent, or alternatively express permission will be required of the Supreme Court. The term ‘sunset clause’ is defined to be a clause that enables rescission of an off-the-plan contract if either the relevant plan of subdivision is not registered by a specific date or an occupancy permit has not been issued in respect of the lot by a specific date.
Disappointingly, some developers appear to have deliberately in the past delayed the construction of these projects, and this is simply not fair and not right. This is an important change, a change that, as I mentioned earlier in my contribution, I think will be supported in my community and right across the state. As the member for Footscray mentioned in her contribution—and it is my belief—the majority of those within the industry are striving to do the right thing, but where this bill is fundamentally important is in providing those safeguards for those that are buying off the plan, in making sure that the rug is not pulled out from under them and in making sure that there is certainty and security and an opportunity for those who are very determined and very passionate about becoming home owners, which is a very important process in someone’s life.
As I mentioned earlier, it is a significant financial decision and a very important step for individuals, for couples and for families. This bill goes to the heart of fairness in this state, of protections, of safeguards and of making sure that the government is providing policy settings that close down on dodgy developers and land bankers, making sure that those that are taking the significant leap of faith to buy off the plan have that very important safeguard in place.
It would be a very frightening and worrying scenario to be faced with this situation, and I do believe that this is a very important piece of legislation, because it gives people the opportunity to put fairness back into the industry.
I commend the bill to the house.