I have had an extremely interesting last couple of weeks in dealing with the NSW Office of Fair Trading. It has resulted in me wondering if it truly is all that fair? I have had cause to email members of the Specialist Support Unit almost daily and getting a response has been like pulling teeth. In fact I have had meetings or discussed the situation with various State, Federal and Territory MP’s and have also spoken with the New South Wales Ombudsman in order to clarify what we can expect as “reasonable” from the NSW Office of Fair Trading and it’s Officers.

A myriad of problems have arisen including bias, where comments have been made by one Officer indicating that guilty until proven innocent is the accepted way of thinking. There has been a complete unwillingness to assist a mother of 7 children in St Helen’s Park, near Campbelltown who as a tenant has been bullied and harassed by a local franchise agency. She is facing the prospect of being homeless just before Christmas and all of this through no fault of her own. This is just one example why major reforms are necessary to the powers, processes and manner in which complaints are handled by the Office of Fair Trading. Changes to training guidelines and compliance assistance for real estate agents are a must and
I will continue to speak with MP’s at all levels of Government to lobby for urgent reform.

It is not too much to expect those policing our industry to return calls, emails and conduct investigations in a timely manner. It is also not too much to expect a “Fair Go” which includes immediate assistance for all people needing urgent care. Surely a mother of 7 children in crisis would be considered urgent enough to be first priority. It’s time to cut through the red tape and the culture of secrecy surrounding the actions of Fair Trading Officers and if you have an Office of Fair Trading horror story please email me with the full details and I will ensure it is passed onto the Minister and other appropriate authorities as soon as possible. Michael Marquette

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