State Government cuts controversial amendment

Following objections from retirement village residents and accusations of influence by political donations, the State Government has been forced to cut proposed changes to their Retirement Villages Amendment Bill.

In an attempt to get the bill through the Upper house, the Minister for Fair Trading, Virginia Judge, cut a controversial amendment that would have seen residents potentially forced to pay for half of all capital works carried out by village operators.

The capital works amendment had been lobbied for strongly by large operators, including Macquarie Bank and Babcock and Brown. At a government fund raiser earlier this year, almost $40,000 was raised. At the function, the previous Minister for Fair Trading, Ms Linda Burney and the NSW Labor Party general secretary, Karl Bitar, were the guests of honour. Ms Burney has denied a connection between the fund-raiser and the controversial legislation.

Under the Government’s proposed amendment retirees, particularly those living in older villages, could be faced with crippling costs for major works.
Ms Judge said in a statement last week that the bill had been the result of “an extensive review and consultation process.”

“However, the Rees Government [is] committed to listening to the concerns of residents and as a result we will make changes to the bill,” she said.

“This has been a humiliating back down for the Government, having been exposed for accepting political donations to the direct detriment of elderly retirement village residents,” the Opposition’s spokeswoman for fair trading, Catherine Cusack, commented.

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