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Thursday, 26 September 1974
Page: 1455

Senator DEVITT (Tasmania) -Mr Deputy President,I seek leave to make a statement relating to this matter.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Webster)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.

Senator DEVITT - In its Forty-ninth Report the Regulations and Ordinances Committee recommended the disallowance of the Australian Capital Territory City Area Leases Ordinance (No. 2) 1974. 1 would draw the attention of the Senate to that report. It would appear that prior to December 1973 a number of home buyers made contracts with builders who are in this sense referred to as vendors, for the assignment of leases of land when the builders were not in fact the lessees of the land concerned. Two cases came to the attention of the Department of the Capital Territory where such contracts were made and the lessees, who are the principal financers of housing development in such cases, had not assigned leases when requested to do so. I understand that this practice is known in the legal profession as gazoomphing. I understand that it is a Yiddish word meaning to welch, to renege or to go back on a deal.

Senator Durack - It is certainly not a legal word.

Senator DEVITT - It is used by the legal profession in cases such as this. The Ordinance sought to avoid this situation by retrospectively binding the lessees to such contracts even though they were not a party to the contracts. The Committee considered that the Ordinance unduly trespassed on the rights and liberties of citizens in that: (a) it is expressed to be retrospective and to apply to contracts made before the Ordinance; (b) it purports to bind the lessee by a contract to which he may not h../e been a party; (c) it reverses the onus of proof; (d) it ignores the contractual rights of the vendor. The Committee considered that it was not proper for an Ordinance to seek to overcome defective contractual arrangements by interfering with the rights of the parties.

The Committee has received a letter from the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Bryant) in which he gives an undertaking that the Ordinance will be repealed. Accordingly, with the leave of the Senate, I withdraw Business of the Senate, Notice of Motion No. 1, standing in my name. I wish to express appreciation of the cooperation extended to the Committee by the Minister concerned.

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