The report of the Committee of Inquiry into Shopping Complex Leasing Practices (the ’Cooper Committee’) presented to the Queensland Government on 19 November 1981 was the first salvo in a volley of shots that impacted around the nation. The Queensland Report led to the enactment of the Retail Shop Leases Act 1984 and similar legislation has followed in three other States, Victoria2, South Australia and Western Australia. The motivation for the Queensland Government to set up a committee of inquiry initially came from complaints made by large shopping centre lessees to the Queensland Small Business Development Corporation who had, in 1981, made two submissions to the State Government on a range of issues concerning deteriorating relationships between owners of large shopping complexes and their small trader lessees. At the foundation of these complaints was the fact that the lessees effectively had no bargaining power in relation to terms and conditions of their leases and were entirely at the mercy of the complex owners.
In this article, it is proposed to examine how these initial complaints have been dealt with in the legislation generally, whether the legislation travels beyond the initial aspirations of the aggrieved lessees andwhether or not some provisions were necessary in any case in the light of existing landlord and tenant law.