Gas Week

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Cleaning up communities: pornographic TV, roadhouses and rental housing all targeted in response law

Posted by gasweek on 12 October, 2007

Introducing the Second Reading of the Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Other Legislation Amendment (Emergency Response Consolidation Bill 2007, Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Mal Brough said in the House of Representtaives on 20 September 2007 the government’s recent legislation included prohibitions on the possession, control and supply in prescribed areas of pornographic material.

“Adult” TV banned: Brough said: “This bill addresses a further area of concern about inappropriate material, raised by the Northern Territory government and, again most importantly, by Aboriginal people themselves. Through amendments in this bill to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, any subscription television narrowcasting service will be prohibited from providing programming that is rated R18+ to subscribers who receive the service in the prescribed areas. This arrangement will be consistent with the pornography amendments already made to the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995, including the sunset provision.

Roadhouses to be treated as stores: “A further measure in the bill will make sure that, if a roadhouse effectively takes the place of a community store in a remote area, it is properly treated as a community store in having to meet the new licensing standards,” Brough said. “Assuming the community substantially relies on the roadhouse for grocery items and drinks, the roadhouse should be part of the scheme applying to community stores. Otherwise, roadhouses will continue not to be regarded as community stores.

Commonwealth becomes landlord: “The legislation passed recently will have the effect of making the Commonwealth a landlord for the purposes of the Residential Tenancies Act in the Northern Territory,” Brough said. “The Residential Tenancies Act normally imposes requirements on a landlord about the state of repair of the premises in question. However, the fact is that the Northern Territory government has not been enforcing these standards in these communities. Under the new legislation, the Commonwealth has become the landlord of what is often dilapidated housing stock. The Commonwealth simply cannot comply with the already in place Residential Tenancies Act obligations in the short term, although we are committed to bringing the quality of this housing to an acceptable standard as quickly as possible. This bill now provides for the Residential Tenancies Act and the related tenancy act in the NT not to apply in the situations covered by the new lease arrangements.

Help from Defence housing agency: “I want to make it clear that this does not mean the Australian government is avoiding its responsibilities as a landlord,” Brough continued. “It is simply to allow the response to do its proper work in making the substantial and essential improvements already announced, and to avoid any mischievous application of the Residential Tenancies Act by the Northern Territory government. The bill will amend the Defence Housing Australia Act 1987 to enable Defence Housing Australia (DHA) to assist with the construction of housing in remote Indigenous communities, subject to DHA being able to maintain its primary defence focus on meeting the needs of Australian Defence Force personnel. While DHA’s functions are essentially limited to providing housing and housing related services for defence personnel, DHA has the expertise and construction market knowledge that would be required for assisting with an Indigenous construction program. The bill also makes minor or technical refinements to the land related provisions in the previous legislation.”

Reference: Mal Brough, Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Member for Longman, House of Representatives, Commonwealth, 20 September 2007.

Erisk Net, 7/10/2007

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