A number of Labor politicians have expressed their concerns about changes to retirement village exit entitlements in Lake Macquarie and on the Central Coast, saying the residents feel “let down”.
The NSW Government committed itself to introducing time limits on when retreats could charge for general services, and when they must sell or buy back a unit after departure of an occupant, at the 2019 State Election.
Lake Macquarie and the Central Coast were initially included within the greater metropolitan area, which meant exiting residents would be paid their privileges by the operator within six months.
However, new legislation in 2021 means these areas are now considered regional and payments are not due for 12 months.
NSW Shadow Minister for Consumer Protection Julia Finn, Charlestown state MP Jodie Harrison and The Entrance state MP David Mehan are calling on NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to provide an explanation to the recent modifications.
During Budget Estimates, the Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation wiped his hands of responsibility for changes to retirement village exit entitlements.
So, Ms Finn, Ms Harrison and Mr Mehan met with residents and staff at the Eleebana Shores Retirement Village this week to discuss the alterations – and their fears.
“At least 4,200 occupants in 51 retirement villages in Lake Macquarie and a further 8,805 (of 43 retreats) on the Central Coast have been let down by this government,” Ms Finn said.
“Retirement village residents have long faced unreasonable delays to receive exit entitlement money before their unit sells but recent changes were made to the law to ensure they are paid within a defined period of time.
“Now, the government has snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
“Just when people in Lake Macquarie and on the Central Coast thought they would be able to be paid their exit entitlements by the operator within six months, the government has blown out the timeframe to 12 months.
“Blaming administrative or bureaucratic inertia is not the way to make decisions such as this.
“We’d like the Liberal government to revisit these regulations and remake them so that they are fairer to retirement village residents.”
Ms Harrison said she had been contacted by many occupants who were upset and angry about the last-minute changes.
“Residents leaving retirement villages in Lake Macquarie shouldn’t have to wait twice as long to be paid as other people in the same situation in Newcastle,” she stated.
“It doesn’t make sense that those from places like Eleebana are treated differently to people less than five kilometres away in the Newcastle LGA (local government area).”
Mr Mehan also weighed in on the matter.
“I, too, have been contacted by many concerned constituents residing in retirement villages in my electorate,” he said.
“My office has been inundated with locals furious that they will have to wait six months longer than first proposed.
“They were led to believe they would be treated the same as people in Sydney.
“However, the government has left them behind and are making them wait six months longer to be paid their exit entitlements.”