Retirement village residents force legislation rethink

LOCAL Queens Lake Retirement Village residents have told a forum the State Government’s proposed changes to the Retirement Villages Act are unfair and should be rejected when State Parliament resumes this week.

The Forum was organised by Nationals Leslie Williams last week with the Shadow Minister for Fair Trading Catherine Cusack, to ensure the views of local residents could be voiced during debate in Parliament. Ms Cusack briefed residents on key changes being proposed by the Government and then asked residents to express their opinions.

The result was a torrent of criticism including fears that residents who are leaseholders will face higher levies to pay for capital items at their villages. Most are pensioners and simply cannot afford increases. Residents believe Retirement Village operators are trying to shift costs on to them to increase profits. They are concerned the legislation will void their lease agreements and leave them out of pocket and with fewer rights.

Mr John Cooper of Queens Park Retirement Village chaired the meeting and presented documentation to support the argument and explain the problems. Ms Cusack was deeply impressed with the research and evidence presented by residents who asked the Opposition to block the legislation in the Upper House.

“Prior to last week’s forum I was expecting we would allow passage of the Bill through all stages. The need to update Retirement Village legislation has been dragging on for four years and we are very reluctant to delay the long awaited, positive reforms in the Bill. However the evidence presented by Queens Lake residents was very convincing, and will force us to rethink our position,” Ms Cusack said.

“I began work on the material presented to me by Queens Lake residents immediately. I will need to burn the midnight oil to get answers and work out new recommendations for Shadow Cabinet. If the Government fails to give satisfactory assurances, then we will be forced to take drastic action in the Legislative Council to either change, defer or block the Bill,” Ms Cusack said.

Leslie Williams congratulated residents for an outstanding presentation. “These concerns simply must be addressed. The whole point of having a Retirement Villages Act is to protect residents. This Bill seems to be doing the opposite by making it easier for big business to fleece them. If so, it must be amended or rejected,” Ms Williams said.

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