Page 1956 - Week 06 - Friday, 6 May 2005

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That this bill be agreed to in principle

MR SESELJA (Molonglo) (10.43): The opposition will be supporting this bill. Mr Corbell is right in saying that superior courts should have the ability to rule on property rights and interests, and I think it is appropriate that the Supreme Court should be given these powers.

I understand that the sentiment behind the changes to the act in 2001 went to the issue of costs in the cancellation of unit titles, and I can see why the Assembly would seek to move the administration of such matters to lower courts or tribunals, or vest the powers with the relevant statutory authority. It seems to have been an attempt to ensure that the costs would be kept to a minimum and that good outcomes could still be achieved.

But I understand, at least anecdotally, that the outcomes that were sought by the 2001 bill are not really being delivered on a day-to-day basis; that is, the costs continue to be relatively high when dealing with unit title cancellations, yet the move to lower courts and tribunals, or ACTPLA acting in these matters, does not necessarily provide the certainty, or uphold the rights of parties to these matters, in the way that it should—and that is not to criticise the lower courts, tribunals or ACTPLA.

The move to return these rights to the Supreme Court should ensure better, potentially more correct and more certain outcomes for parties to these matters and mean that the system works better for stakeholders, which is something that the opposition have been seeking for some time. We will therefore be supporting this bill.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (10.45): I support this bill. It appears to be fairly straightforward although, as has been commented already this morning about the Rates Amendment Bill, this one has been brought up rather suddenly, although certainly not as suddenly as that one.

The Unit Titles Amendment Bill will enable the Supreme Court to consider matters relating to changes or cancellations of unit plans. The Supreme Court had this capacity under the Unit Titles Act 1970. However, when that act was repealed in 2001, after a long review, and replaced with the subsequent Unit Titles Act 2001, there was no provision for Supreme Court involvement. In place of the Supreme Court, the 2001 legislation provided that, where there was consensual agreement on changes or cancellations to unit titles, these could be approved by ACTPLA or its equivalent, or, if there was a dispute, via the Magistrates Court. One of the arguments put forward for using the Magistrates Court rather than the Supreme Court was that it would significantly reduce the cost of cancelling a units plan and the time involved in doing so.

The legislative changes in 2001 were supported unanimously and put before the Assembly after many years of consultation and consideration. At the time my predecessor, Kerrie Tucker, noted that there was 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 endorse this sentiment. I have been advised that there are some cases of a more complex nature involving property rights and interests that go

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