It’s not sleazy being Green

Don’t hold your breath but strata law reform could be the hot political potato at the next State election.

City of Sydney Deputy Mayor Chris Harris, launching his Greens campaign for Bligh (aka Clover’s seat), says he wants to put strata law reform at the forefront of his campaign.

And Cllr Harris helped to formulate a Bill read into State Parliament last week by Greens MP Sylvia Hale, demanding major changes to the strata laws.

According to Hansard, the official record of Parliament, their five-point plan includes:
* ways to ensure faster resolution of strata disputes
* forcing executive committee members to declare any conflicts of interest
* limits on building management contracts to one year (instead of the ludicrous 10-year terms they can now get)
* providing independent assessors for defects claims to avoid the David vs Goliath court battles we often see
* the creation of a Strata Ombudsman to make sure everybody gets a fair deal.

Now, it has to be said that, thanks to the way Parliament works, this Bill has less chance of getting into law than a normal, well-adjusted, acne-free youth has of getting on to Jamie’s Kitchen.

But at least these issues might now be discussed openly rather than swept under the carpet of bipartisan political self interest.

I particularly like the closing line of Ms Hale’s speech: “It is time for the major parties to unshackle themselves from the golden handcuffs of developer donations and start doing the right thing for strata residents.”

Nothing new from the Greens there – they have a website dedicated to exposing political donations – but it’s nice to see the strata side of things spelled out in public. You can access the full speech on www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/PARLMENT/hansArt.nsf/V3Key/LC20061017057 or just Google “Hansard Hale” and you’ll find an index of her speeches. This one was made on 17/10/06.

Hopefully, this is just the first of many political forays into Strata Law in the run-up to the next election. As Flatchatters know, the odds in strata land are so profoundly stacked against those of us who live in apartments that anyone with a half-decent and honourable plan will get a lot of support. It’s not quite Eureka Stockade but there’s a lot of disgruntled, disgusted and disenfranchised people out there.

Email me with your questions and complaints on flatchat@jimmythomson.com or check out previous columns and ongoing discussions on the right.

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