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Jul 18

Victorian election 2014: Labor vows to review estate agent rule change

State Premier Denis Napthine has raised the hackles of Victorian real estate agents and small businesses, who have pledged $1 million to an anti-Napthine campaign during the election campaign. Photo: Eddie Jim State Premier Denis Napthine has raised the hackles of Victorian real estate agents and small businesses, who have pledged $1 million to an anti-Napthine campaign during the election campaign. Photo: Eddie Jim
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State Premier Denis Napthine has raised the hackles of Victorian real estate agents and small businesses, who have pledged $1 million to an anti-Napthine campaign during the election campaign. Photo: Eddie Jim

Labor has vowed to review planned rule changes by the state government that will allow unlicensed operators to sell and lease commercial properties.

Premier Denis Napthine is facing a furious electoral backlash from thousands of real estate agents across Victoria, after the government last week revealed that anyone involved in the sale or leasing of commercial property will no longer need an agent’s licence if the property is worth at least $15 million, or has a total floor space of at least 10,000 square metres.

The changes could impact on hundreds of small businesses, which will no longer have the protection of paying their rent into trust accounts held by real estate agents, but could instead be forced to pay landlords directly.

The Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV) in conjunction with the Council of Small Business of Australia (COSBOA), has launched an advertising campaign against the proposed changes.

In addition, angry agents and small businesses have pledged $1 million to an anti-Napthine campaign during the election campaign. The REIV’s 5500 members are preparing to erect anti-Napthine signs in every state electorate.

According to the ALP, it will review the Napthine government’s “rushed last minute changes to the rules around who must use estate agents in commercial transactions” should it win power.

“Concerns raised by COSBOA about potentially serious adverse effects on Victorian small business means that these reforms require a thorough and fair consultation of all affected stakeholders,’ said Robin Scott, Labor’s Shadow Minister for Consumer Affairs.

“We all agree that getting rid of red tape is important, but we need to make certain here that these changes are not favouring Australia’s biggest landlords at the cost of small businesses and local jobs.”

But Treasurer Michael O’Brien said similar changes had been implemented “to positive effect” in Queensland.

“Labor would put the self-interest of large commercial real estate agents ahead of cutting red tape, growing the economy and growing jobs,” he said.

“Labor will always back vested interests ahead of the public interest.”

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