Page 1244 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 25 March 2009

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Transport plays an important role in breaking down the barriers for people who are marginalised in our society and allows them to be active in the community and not socially excluded. We would like to see the ACT government commit to a time frame to put a definite plan of action in place to develop a long-term solution to the issue of delivering this very important service to people with a disability in the ACT.

Unit Titles Amendment Bill 2009

Mrs Dunne, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (10.05): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Last year the Sixth Assembly, under the burden of the government’s majority at the time, passed a range of amendments to the Unit Titles Act, many of which are set to commence at various dates this year, some as early as Tuesday next week. Those amendments were passed in the face of much community and industry angst. The angst was because the Stanhope-Gallagher Labor government took its typical bulldozer-like approach to getting its legislative changes through.

I think it is important that we have a quick recap of the history of those amendments. There was an initial flurry of consultation in 2006-07, but that was followed by 12 months of absolute silence. Then, all of a sudden, in the last few months of the Sixth Assembly, an exposure draft of amendments was released with a consultation period of around three weeks. That was subsequently extended to six weeks.

An almost panic-stricken community of unit owners and residents and the bemused strata title management industry then started beating a path to the doors of the opposition and the crossbench members. There was a mood of confusion, anger, misunderstanding, scepticism and suspicion in all those communities.

There were concerns, for example, that the government was going to pool the body corporate bank accounts, bring them under the management of ACAT and sweep the interest income earned on those accounts into the government’s coffers to pay for ACAT. That, of course, was such an outrageous measure that the government had to back away from that very quickly indeed. That backing away was brought about by the very effective campaign run by the Canberra Liberals to highlight the duplicity of this measure.

Another example was the concern that anything that a unit title owner wanted to do to improve their unit would have to go before the ACAT for approval. There were concerns over whether pets would be allowed in units; there were concerns over the qualification and licensing of strata title managers; there was concern over how bodies corporate might be able to do their business. And the concerns of stakeholders were not limited to those that I have outlined.

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