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Wednesday, 2 November 2011
Page: 12639


Mr PERRETT (Moreton) (16:46): I rise in support of the Personal Property Securities Amendment (Registration Commencement) Bill 2011. Back in 2009 the Labor government introduced legislation to provide one consistent law regarding personal property securities across the country and one online register. This replaced about 70 Commonwealth, state and territory laws and at least 40 registers, some still held in paper form. I well remember my time as an articled clerk when I seemed to spend half my time waiting to access some of those registers. I said to the Attorney-General before, and I will say it again on the public record, that he is putting articled clerks out of work. That is a good thing because it is simplifying their jobs.

Personal property securities are interests in personal property that secure a payment. For example, it might be a car loan for an individual or multimillion dollar company charges. Our sensible reform provides greater protection to consumers. For example, when the online register is up and running early next year, individuals in the market for a used car will be able to do an online search to see whether a particular car is being used as security for a loan. This bill will make technical but urgent amendments to the Personal Property Securities Act 2009 to enable the effective and stable operation of the PPS register next year. I understand the register is ready for final testing but some stakeholders, including banks, are concerned that the 1 February deadline is not feasible. I understand they need more time to prepare for the new system. States and territories also need more time to migrate their data and make the necessary legislative amendments, so it is important that we get the timing right for this momentous change.

This bill amends the definitions of 'migration time' and 'registration commencement time' to enable the Attorney-General to determine an earlier or later time for each. This is a practical and necessary measure to ensure the online register is stable and ready. Personal property securities reform is a part of this government's effort to slash red tape, remove duplication and deliver greater consistency across this wonderful nation. This is never easy. In fact, I am sure the Attorney-General can say it was like mustering cats on occasion. But at the completion of the trial about 4.6 million records will be transferred to the new PPS register. This is a massive undertaking in anyone's terms. A precipitate launch of the online register to meet an arbitrary deadline would be pointless and perhaps self-defeating. In response to the concerns of state and territory governments and other stakeholders like the banking and finance sector, the PPS will only become publicly available when stakeholders are confident to use the new system. The open-ended time frame provides greater flexibility to allow the Attorney-General to determine the best time to launch the online register.

On a related topic, I note in my local Quest paper on Thursday, 27 October that Cash Converters has taken out a prominent ad in my local newspaper calling on me to abandon reforms to payday lending. There is an ad with a photograph of me which is attributed to Ray Strange, but I hasten to point out that, whilst Ray Strange does work for News Ltd, it was Kim Smith who took the photograph. I recognise it because it is a photograph of me with my book. But, as the House is aware, payday loans offer consumers easy access to cash to meet urgent expenses. They are usually very short term and, unfortunately, very high interest. They can be as high as 38 per cent. These kinds of loans are preying on and exploiting desperate and vulnerable people who have legitimate reasons, mostly, for turning up—the washing machine or the car has died. However, with the exorbitant interest rates it is obviously not a good financial decision.

The government is acting because it is the right thing to do. I will not be intimidated by scare and smear campaigns from sectional interests. It has not worked for Clubs Australia and it will not work for Cash Converters. Their glossy ad urged people to bombard my office with complaints. Instead, I actually received emails like this one this morning, which I will read out. I will not name the person who sent it. It says:

Hi,

I noticed an advertisement in the Southern Start from Cash Converters where they oppose moves by yourself to provide some limits to their short term loans operations.

I don't exactly know what legislative plans you have, but what I do know is that these short term loan businesses charge extremely high interest and target the poor end of town. I believe that it is beyond question that these businesses exploit the poor.

This next bit is bolded:

If you are making legislative moves to protect the poor from businesses that exploit them, then I support you all the way.

Please send me any information you might have about your plans.

This was from a gentleman from Acacia Ridge.

I do not begrudge Cash Converters their right to spend their cash to state their case or even to organise a campaign against me. In fact, I met Paul Hartley and Greg Lemon from Cash Converters last week. I recognise their concerns. Obviously this legislation is important. We do not want to send people towards loan sharks. Cash Converters are a reputable business. They did not actually mention the ad. I think they might have done since it was already at the printing press. I do think in this instance they are out of step with the community.

The bill before the House shows how well this government is working with all the states and territories as well as the private sector to bring about reform and to get rid of red tape. I commend the Attorney-General for his consultative approach and commend the bill to the House.