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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 10 Hansard (Tuesday, 26 August 2008) . . Page.. 3675 ..

Unit Titles Amendment Bill 2008

Debate resumed from 7 August 2008, on motion by Mr Barr:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR SESELJA (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (8:56): I am pleased that we have the opportunity to debate the Unit Titles Amendment Bill tonight. We now have the new edict from Mr Corbell about the hierarchy of importance of legislation. Mr Corbell believes that the Unit Titles Amendment Bill is more important than the Domestic Violence and Protection Orders Bill. That is the new standard.

We are pleased to debate the bill at any time. We will be pleased to debate it at 11 o’clock, 9 o’clock or any other time the government wants to debate it. It is interesting that we now have a hierarchy of the importance of bills and the Unit Titles Amendment Bill, as important as it is, according to the Attorney-General of the ACT, trumps the Domestic Violence and Protection Orders Bill.

The government drafted an issues paper to address unit titles legislation and applied it to the following stakeholders: unit owners, unit occupiers, unit purchasers, professional body corporate managers and on-site building managers. The organisations or classes of groups affected are owners, corporations, government agencies, developers, lawyers, real estate agents, industry bodies and community groups.

Issues identified as concerns warranting legislative change were: inadequate dispute resolution processes; enforcement of articles; inappropriate division of functions among the general meeting, executive committee and body corporate managers; inappropriate approval levels, that is, types of resolutions for general meeting decisions; accountability of executive members; conduct and competency of some body corporate managers; disclosure to off-the-plan unit purchasers; more disclosure to secondary and subsequent unit purchasers; the regulation of long-term developer sponsored agreements entered into by the owners corporation; building defects; conduct of some developers; animals and maintenance of common property. There were a number of important issues, Mr Speaker.

The government has not handled this process very well at all and that is why we have seen this go back and forth and why we have seen such concern amongst stakeholders over a period of time. One concern was that the draft legislation did not codify well enough the skills and experience required to maintain a range of properties of various sizes and with varying levels of service complexities.

Another issue of concern was that the legislation required the manager to be a licensed real estate agent. The initial position of the government was to mandate licensed real estate agents as the only common class of persons to manage an owners corporation. Hence all current and would-be body corporate managers would need to secure a real estate agent’s licence. As noted by objectors, the management of large multistorey corporations is not a task in which most licensed real estate persons are experienced.

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