Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 3 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 555..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
and I understand is the result of many years of grafting to reach this stage. The process proposed in the two bills is one which will lead to considerable improvement to the administration of unit titles in the territory.
The Labor Party views these bills as uncontentious. They will provide for a greater streamlining and more effective administration of unit titles in the ACT. We will be supporting the legislation.
MS TUCKER (10.50): Mr Speaker, this bill replaces the existing Unit Titles Act which has been in operation for 30 years and has not been substantially changed over that time. However, I understand that over the years a number of deficiencies have been identified with the legislation and that there is a need to upgrade it to match current ownership practices in unit titles.
This legislation sets the rules for the unit titling of townhouses, flats and the like. By their nature there is a need to ensure exclusive ownership and control of individual units within the complex, but to have shared ownership and control of common areas on the block. There is, thus, a need to ensure that the internal management arrangements for these complexes are equitable, democratic and accountable, and also to ensure that disputes between unit holders can be fairly resolved and as simply as possible. I do not think anybody can disagree with these objectives.
The bill contains a lot of detail regarding the procedural aspects of how unit plans are managed. In a sense it is like a constitution by which unit owners have to operate. I understand that the government has consulted with various stakeholders in developing the bill, so I trust that there has been sufficient scrutiny of these detailed procedural arrangements. We will be supporting this legislation.
MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services, Minister for Business, Tourism and the Arts and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (10.51), in reply: Mr Speaker, I guess that after almost seven years of consultation and work on this legislation there will be a lot of relieved people out there. I thank members for their support. I think the process followed and the time taken has produced something that is worth while. Clearly, the agreement of all members that the bill can go through unamended is an indication by the Assembly anyway that we have got it right.
I think the public servants who have been working on this for some time have done a very good job in making sure we get this right. There are a number of them, and some of them are in the gallery. I welcome their presence here to see the culmination of all their work. This affects where people live, and it is very important that we get it right. People who invest in property do have a say as to how that property is managed and looked after.
The importance of the bill is that it does include dispute resolutions for deadlock orders. It does allow minor alterations to internal boundaries. It simplifies the procedures for the cancellation of the unit plan. It does provide for the staging of multi-storey developments, and it allows owners' corporations to enforce the articles of their corporation. I think in the interest of accountability and equity it does allow decisions to approve or refuse an application to unit title, or a decision to approve or refuse an application to alter a unit titles plan, to be appealable to the AAT.