Page 3693 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 26 August 2008
When someone like Mr Bugden is engaged, I am amazed that he was gagged. What we have come up with here is not the preferred model suggested by him. I know that the government will say that they started the consultation in 2005, I think. But at the end of the day, back in July when these issues were first raised and aired, it became painfully obvious that real consultation had occurred over probably only a matter of a few weeks.
I suggested to one of the government ministers then, and I suggest it again today, that, in terms of major pieces of legislation, it is not rocket science. You can solve it. You get out a piece of legislation. Ideally you would get out your draft regs. You put those on the table and then ask people further. That is when you are going to get some real comments coming in.
We have seen it time and again over the last few months. Complex pieces of legislation are put on the table. The government say, “We started a consultation process one year ago”—or two or three years ago. But the people at the other end, the ones who are meant to be consulted, say, “We have only seen this for three or four weeks; no-one told us.” The government then is left to make a series of amendments to fix up what is a dog’s breakfast, in doing so often making it far worse.
As this bill was written back in June or July, about 50 or 60 different sections that the unit title holders and their organisations had seen were problematic—50 or 60. It was on four pages. That is a huge amount. It was probably more than that; I think I counted up that many dot points. For example, there was section 56 to 63A and things like that, so you are probably talking about a lot more than 60 sections of a bill that were problematic. Mr Barr brought in some amendments—not many, but some amendments. Even then, as some of my colleagues have said, the language was somewhat guarded and it was difficult to understand, to see what he was really getting at.
New South Wales and Queensland have very effective unit title processes. Unlike the ACT, they do not seem to have the same concerns about governments dipping into their pockets. Money is held and, in my understanding, in many instances, the interest stays and goes back into the body corporate; sinking funds actually have interest. There are other funds. Minor repairs around the body corporate often are paid for because of interest earned. Surely that is a fairer and much more effective way of doing business than what we have here.
It is important to get this right. There are 30,000 units in the territory and it is growing. There are a lot more high-rise and medium-density buildings. People are wanting to downsize. There are some very good-quality units coming onto the market. There are changing demographics in terms of how many people there are per household. More and more people are going to be living in units. It is crucially important that we get it right.
I would not dispute figures saying that anything up to about 100,000 people may be living in units in the ACT. That is about 30 per cent of the population. You are talking about a lot of people who are going to be affected. You are also talking about