UPDATE: Queensland legislation passed to implement the National Code of Conduct on Commercial Leases

Key takeaways

  • The COVID-19 Emergency Response Act 2020 provides a wide range of powers for the Queensland Government to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and its disruptions to public administration, judicial processes and small business.
  • A Small Business Commissioner will be appointed to advise the Government on the COVID-19 response measures, assist small businesses with dispute resolution and administer a mediation service for small business tenancy disputes.
  • The Queensland Government has indicated it will consult with industry and stakeholders on the actual implementation of the principles in the Code.

On 22 April, 2020 the Queensland Government passed the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act 2020 (“the Act”).

The Act provides a wide range of powers for the Queensland Government to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and its disruptions to public administration, judicial processes and small business. 

The areas of the Act concerning small business deal with the implementation of the National Cabinet Mandatory Code of Conduct – SME Commercial Leasing Principles During COVID-19 (“the Code”).

In this regard, the Act provides for the following in Parts 6 and 7:

  1. The appointment of a Small Business Commissioner who will advise the Queensland Government on the COVID-19 response measures, assist small businesses with dispute resolution and administer a mediation service for small business tenancy disputes.
  2. Enables the Queensland Government to make regulations under the Act to:
    • Prohibit recovery of possession of a premises;
    • Prohibit termination of a lease;
    • Regulate the exercise or enforcement of another Lessor rights under a lease;
    • Exempt a Lessee from any provision of another Act or of a lease;
    • Require parties to a lease to have regard to certain principles or a prescribed standard in negotiating or disputing a matter under a lease;
    • Require decision makers on any dispute under a lease to have regard to certain principles or a prescribed standard in determining any dispute;
    • Provide for a form of dispute resolution for certain disputes relating to a lease.
  3. Any regulations under the Act can have effect from the commencement of the Act and will expire on 31 December, 2020.

The Act provides the mechanism for the implementation of the Code, but does not implement the principles themselves contained with the Code.

The Queensland Government has previously indicated that it will consult with industry and stakeholders on the actual implementation of the principles in the Code.

This was repeated by the Queensland Government on the reading of the legislation in Parliament.

The consultation by Queensland Government with industry and stakeholders will likely be conducted through the office of the newly-created Small Business Commissioner. 

You can see my previous blog about the Code at:

https://www.hillhouse.com.au/blog/david-adolphe/what-australian-landlords-and-tenants-in-the-accommodation-industry-need-to-know-about-the-pm-s-mandatory-code-and-commercial-leases

The information in this blog is intended only to provide a general overview and has not been prepared with a view to any particular situation or set of circumstances. It is not intended to be comprehensive nor does it constitute legal advice. While we attempt to ensure the information is current and accurate we do not guarantee its currency and accuracy. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the information in this blog as it may not be appropriate for your individual circumstances.