Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 10 Hansard (Tuesday, 26 August 2008) . . Page.. 3682 ..
I believe that this project is the result of important and good work conducted by the ACT government over the past few years. I am concerned that a few issues have blown up in ways that work against these achievements. Given that there are so many people who own unit title property who will be affected by this bill, I believe that the advantage in terms of understanding—and so acceptance—to be gained by slowing this process down outweigh the advantages of pushing it through now.
I ask that this bill be reintroduced following more discussion. Once we have an understanding of the legislation, we can look at it again early next year with everyone reading from the same page with the need for very few changes. It is important that we do this because there is no doubt that many more people will be living this way in the future and we need to get it right now.
MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (9.22): This bill has generated a great deal of interest from the community and obviously a great deal of controversy. From my perspective, it is a very good example of the dangers of rushing legislation through this place in time for an election deadline. There have been a great many concerns expressed to me by constituents, which the minister is aware of, both about the consultation for the bill and about the substance of the bill itself. This bill will affect a great many units. It will affect the apartments that we see springing up in Canberra as well as some aged-care villages which are organised as unit corporations.
My own experience, having been given a briefing on this bill by the government, has unfortunately been the same as the community’s. In fact, I can honestly say that in four years in the Assembly my briefing on this bill was the poorest quality briefing I have ever had. This is not mere hyperbole; my office has contacted the minister’s office to make it clear to him that the briefing on the bill was highly unsatisfactory. In this case, the briefing given by the minister’s office—in fairness, it was primarily driven by ACTPLA—was completely lacking in crucial information and the officials present seemed to make unsupported accusations about management corporations and to take the view that no serious rationale is required for changes that would put unit corporations entirely under the thumb of the government.
For example, one of the officials explained that they wished to increase competition because of the “exorbitant” fees that are allegedly being charged, or they allege are being charged, by manager corporations. When I asked for figures that the government had to corroborate this claim of exorbitant fees, they were unable to refer to me any evidence on the matter. In fact, it appeared to me that this was merely the subjective assessment of a particular official passed off as a rationale for change. I am not sure whether this was the view of the minister or the department or whether it was the official offering speculation of her own, but when I asked why changes to various rules were being introduced I was told that this was due to complaints from unit owners. When I asked how many complaints there had been, I was told that there were no records of the complaints; they were all thrown away.
In the four years I have been in this place, I have gone through budget processes and estimates. They are right down to logging the number of calls that go into Canberra Connect, how many they achieve, what their targets are and what their KPIs are. Then