Podcast: Now you can read it as well as listen

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This week’s podcast is all about wheel-clamping, email privacy and the amazing legacy of the Sydney Olympics athletes’ village.

But one of the biggest pieces of news this week is about the podcast itself or, more to the point, these show notes.

As we approach our 100th edition, and following numerous requests from readers who don’t listen to podcasts, we have finally discovered a program that will use Artificial Intelligence to transcribe the audio into text.

Now, AI can only do so much with variations of Australian, Scottish and English accents, so it does require a bit of work to knock it into shape.

Then there are the interruptions, half-formed thoughts, digressions and repetitions – not to mention umms, aaahs and other verbal punctuations – that you don’t realise form part of your everyday speech until you see them laid out before you on a page.

We’ve done our best to filter out the intrusions but I hope you get the sense of the discussions and the flavour of the podcast in this lightly tweaked and fairly raw form.

Meanwhile, for those of you who prefer to listen, here’s this week’s podcast, where Sue and I talk about her story on the 2000 Olympic athletes’ village, now a very desirable suburb.

Then we are joined by Karen Stiles, Executive Officer of the Owners Corporation Network, to discuss the push to keep apartment owners’ email addresses secret, and demands for a return of wheel clamping for rogue parkers.

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You can listen to the podcast by clicking on the “play” button below.

If you haven’t already tried listening to a podcast, and you have speakers attached to your computer or earbuds attached to your smartphone, all you have to do is click on the link above.

And if you like what you hear, you can subscribe to this podcast, absolutely free, on Apple podcastsGoogle podcastsSpotifyStitcher or your favourite podcatcher. If the links provided don’t take you straight there, just search for Flat Chat Wrap, click on subscribe, and you’ll get this podcast every week without even trying. It’s free: no hooks, catches or sign-ups. Enjoy.

Transcript: This podcast in print

 Jimmy: Hard to believe it’s been 20 years since the Sydney Olympics.

Sue  Oh, wow. It sure is. I mean, it’s interesting when we’re getting this documentary now about Cathy Freeman.   Lots of posts about it. Eric the Eel? Yes. And um,   the memories come flooding back. But it does feel only about a couple years ago.   

 Jimmy: Then you realize there’s been three or four other Olympics since then. But I was reminded, funnily enough, and these days of COVID going to the station to get in a train and finding that a certain time of night when it’s going to be busy, the make you go round in a one way system through in and out the stations when people aren’t bumping into each other facing each other.

And that reminded me of at the Olympic Stadium, where they had a one way system for people to walk around. And you could see the gate that you wanted to get into about about 20 yards away. But you had to walk another half a mile around the system to get to that gate, but it worked.   It worked tremendously well.

So you’re going to be talking in a minute about what happened to the buildings that they built for the athletes.   The Olympic Village. And we’re going to be talking to  Karen: Stiles of OCN about email addresses and clamping illegally parked cars. I’m  Jimmy: Thomson.

 Sue: And I’m  Sue Williams.

 Jimmy: And this is the Flat Chat Wrap.

Olympic village now sought-after suburb

Jimmy:  Sue, you’ve done a story this week about the accommodation that was built for the Sydney Olympics.

Sue:  Yes, I went out to Newington this week, for the first time ever. It was during the Olympics, I covered the Olympics, for the Sydney Morning Herald the Melbourne age out of Sydney Olympic Park and the big media center. But we were never allowed to go to the athletes village because obviously security   so I’ve never been there before. And I’d never been there since. And it’s the kind of place you don’t drive through. It’s kind of a bit out of the way. So you never go there. And I was really surprised. One nice suburb. It really is. And it looks so new. It’s hard to believe it’s 20 years old. It’s just so work. It is so incredibly green everywhere. Well and beautiful low rise apartments and townhouses. It’s a really smart place.

Jimmy: So it was originally built, obviously, to accommodate the athletes from all over the world, but with the intention that once they had gone ordinary, slightly less athletic people could move in and live there permanently.

 Sue:  It was a it was a really interesting idea. Because I think in previous Olympics, you’d always had the athletes villages were very temporary. And then afterwards, they became kind of high rise housing, sort of social housing. Or they became  not very desirable parts of town but slummy or kind of a white elephant really never really used.

So for the Sydney Olympics, for the first time, they tried this new experiment, and they had a new template of designing a neighborhood area, and then adapting it for the athletes during the three to five weeks of the games.  

Then afterwards, after the athletes have gone, refitting it ready for other people to buy the apartments, the townhouses, and the houses and move in there,   And it proved incredibly successful and so successful that every Olympics organisers since have come to Newington to see how it was done.

And apparently, it really kind of changed urban planning and design in Australia forever as well, particularly for planning for Greenfield developments.

Jimmy:  How would it have been done? I mean, because they built them as houses but adapted that for athlete’s accommodation, because I believe in your story. They say they didn’t have kitchens.

Sue:  No, they hadn’t been fitted out with kitchens at that point. So they kind of built the shell, right? But they built the rooms quite wide, so that they could divide the rooms into two and then they could fit bedrooms on both sides.   And they converted the garages into bedrooms as well.

And then they craned in modular units into the courtyards right of the apartments and townhouses and created more bedrooms. So every I think every four bedroom house slept up to 26 people, quite comfortably for and when the athletes arrived at the village, they were startled discover that they had marble bathrooms, because the bathrooms had been built in obviously.

So they were amazed that they had well-built accommodation, but they probably didn’t even know that it was going to go on to become permanent housing afterwards.

Jimmy: You just made me think that maybe it was also the 24 people in a four bedroom house is a model that was adopted by some of these landlords who cram people into apartments.

Sue: Modular units were taken out, obviously,   And they were sold off quite cheaply. And now you can see them all along the coast of New South Wales being used as holiday home. Oh, I see as clever.

Jimmy:  It is really. So nothing went to waste.

Sue:  No. And when you say How did the planning change? Well, this was a real kind of Greenfield site. It was just basically a swamp.   And it had been used in since World War One as an armaments depot for the Navy.   So they had all these bunkers everywhere.   So they got rid of most of the bunkers, but they kept a few of them just for heritage value of interest.

And they drained the land made sure it wasn’t contaminated. So it was great. It was right next to a creek Haslam Creek.   And which was cleaned up and became a really beautiful kind of river.   

And the government really wanted to build the houses on the water. And then the apartments stepped back.   But the developer who was Mirvac and Lend Lease, it’s a joint venture. And Mirvac did all the homes and Lend Lease did the infrastructure like the roads?   

Mirvac said, no, no, no, we want to have the low level apartments, first on the river. Because when you’re going to have billions of people watching these Olympics, you’re going to be looking out from the Olympic Stadium. And they’re just going to see this ocean of flat roofs for houses. And we want a clearly defined line of low level apartments.

And it looks really good when you look at the drone footage … you can understand why they said that. Whereas you’d normally think now you’d want the houses first.   And they would say no, with the apartments, you’ve got a lot more people in the apartments than the houses. So they are the ones who should have the views? Well, because you know, the houses have got courtyards and backyards.   they’ve got that amenity. Whereas the apartments are a lot smaller.

Jimmy:  And they should have the views sometimes. Well, that’s a real shift in thinking, isn’t it? Because I mean, even to this day, the government will always put people in houses before people in apartments.   And you mentioned there was a bit of a standoff at one point …

Sue:  Yes, everybody else had withdrawn their tenders and Mirvac was the only one left tendering for housing. And they said, we want the apartments on this line on the water. And the government said, No, no, we want the houses.

And so then the co founder and chairman of Mirvac, Bob Hamilton said, stood up and said, if the apartments aren’t on the water, I’m not interested and got up and walked out of the room. And everybody there from Socog and the state government said, Oh, my God, we’ve got nobody to do it anymore. So they raced out after him and said, No, okay, you can have the apartments. So  that was an interesting ultimatum they gave them really.

Jimmy:  And was it a good business venture for Mirvac’s point of view,

Sue:  In some ways, but it was an incredibly expensive exercise. They say they lost money on every apartment that they sold, but they made money on the houses. But I think more than that, they just really feel it was a fantastic legacy for them. Because in terms of planning, the Sydney Olympics were the green Olympics, we were touted as that they wanted the athletes village to be really green and to champion sustainable technologies.

So it was all solar powered, right had water recycling, had cross ventilation in the apartments. So it was pretty green.   And it was it became the world’s biggest solar powered suburb at the time. was amazing to them. I mean, obviously Australia’s first solar-panel suburb, but the world’s largest one.

And no home was built further than four metres away from green space. So they’re all these systems of little pocket parks everywhere. And then bigger parks,   And you go out there today, and it’s so green, and they planted trees, obviously. And they the trees were as as mature as they could possibly  have them.   But now the trees are just towering and most of them are natives, and they are massive.

Jimmy:  Well, they’re 20 years old.

Sue:  But it looks like it’s been there. 100 years, perhaps?

Jimmy:  Well, not really. Because the buildings aren’t falling down.  

Sue:  But you think, well, what a fantastic place because there’s so much greenery around  and there’s lots of parks and walking tracks and bicycle paths and running track. And obviously, you’re only two kilometers from Sydney Olympic Park to so you’ve got all the facilities there as well. So it would have been good during isolation.

Jimmy:  Do you think it’s really taken off as a model for other housing schemes? Or is it just seen as a one off, almost like a monument to how clever we could be 20 years ago, but let’s just get back to cramming as many homes as possible into a small area?

Sue:  I think certain segments of it have been taken out and copied in other developments.   And when you look at being solar powered and water recycling, well, that obviously hasn’t really taken off in most other places. No, now there seems to be a new kick towards doing that.

Jimmy:  I was just reading the other day that that new buildings at Broadway and the big one with the weird solar panel thing, Central Park, apparently the recycled water that they can only use for toilets and washing machines and things is more pure than the Sydney water that comes out of the tap. Well, because of restrictions, legal restrictions, they cannot recycle drinking water, even though they have proof positive that it’s cleaner than tap water.

Sue:  So it’s a case of legislation falling behind.

Jimmy:  And also the suspicion that anything to do with building development. As soon as you let somebody do something, then somebody will come along and do it badly. So that sounds very encouraging and promising … you were very impressed.

Sue:  Yes but I won’t be moving there anytime soon, it’s a long way away from the centre. But honestly, if I had a young family, I mean, it would be a pretty good place to live. I talked to a family there. And they moved there, I think 12 years ago, originally. And then when they had another child, the place they had was a bit too small. So they bought another house in the same suburb on the same road, right?

Jimmy:  So they like it.

Sue:  They do. I mean, it seems everybody is incredibly enthusiastic about living there. And it’s the environment that they really like. And you know, if you’re working Western Sydney, that will be perfect, too. But also, they love feeling a part of the Olympic spirit to because it was such a fantastic time, and all the streets barring Newington Boulevard, are named after athletes. The family I talked to live on Popov street. And I know you’ve got all the greats, great athletes names there.

Jimmy:  Is there a Freeman Avenue?

Sue:  Oh, one would hope so. It’s been extended a bit since there been other homes built there. So probably there’s a few more streets. So  one would hope that Freeman Avenue would certainly be there.

Jimmy: Freeman’s Run?

Sue: Oh, that’s a good one.  

Jimmy:  When we come back, we’re going to be talking to  Karen Stiles, who’s the executive officer of the Owners Corporation Network about their submissions to government review of strata law, which includes not having your email address available to other owners as part of the strata roll, and the ability to clamp cars in your car park that’s after this.

Karen from OCN on email addresses and wheel clamps

Jimmy:  And we’re back. So today, our guest is once again Karen Stiles, the executive officer of the owners Corporation, network OCN. And she’s going to have a chat with us about a couple of items and their submission to the ongoing review of strata law in New South Wales. Hello,  Karen.

Karen:  Morning  Jimmy.  Sue, hi.

Jimmy:  So I’ve just been quickly skimming through a sneak preview of the OCN’s submission for a review of strata law going on at the moment

Karen:  The government and Fair Trading are in the process of developing a discussion paper, hence why we were talking with them. So lots of people have been putting in submissions, they’ll put out a paper with some ideas in it.

Jimmy:  And then we’ll all go get to express our opinions, and they’ll ignore them and just go ahead with what they want to do anyway. Because that’s the usual process, isn’t it?

Karen: Tut, tut, tut,  Jimmy.

Sue:  You know him so well.

Jimmy:  There’s a couple of things that jumped out at me. The first one was a submission to have email addresses removed from the strata roll. At the moment, the way the law stands, you have to provide your email address if you have one. And if once it’s provided, it has to be given to people if they want to see the strata roll. So what’s the problem with that?

Karen:  We’ve had quite a few complaints from members and non-members about the email addresses being misused by owners. If they’ve got a particular grudge, about the building, and they can access the email addresses, then they can inundate owners with emails about their particular pet topic.

Jimmy:  Pet topics being one of the pet topics.

Karen:  Quite possibly, yes. I can remember as a committee member getting 22 emails in a month from one particular owner. Well, if I wasn’t silly enough to be on the committee, I was just an ordinary owner, I would appreciate that one bit.

Jimmy:  The first thing that occurs to me is you can block people’s email addresses on your own personal email server, you can say, I don’t want to even see emails from this person, just put them straight in the trash file. I guess that for a lot of people who aren’t like me who don’t spend half their lives under the bonnet of computers, that that might be a bit tricky.

The other thing that occurs to me is, let’s turn this round, you’ve got a committee that’s tightly controlled by a couple of individuals, and they don’t want they really don’t want owners communicating with each other. Email is the easiest way to let people know that something is amiss. Is it too easy?

Karen:  Well, it could be too easy. And I guess that’s the tension, isn’t it? With communal living, you’re always trading off rights and responsibilities. And we just have to try as a broader strata community to find the  the sweet spot the balance, and it needs to be good public policy, which is why it’s so great that we’re going to have this consultation at the end of the year.

Jimmy:  I just think in terms of a committee, like the one I’ve described, that might be sending out, for instance, a newsletter, saying we’re doing this for this reason, and the people who want to send a response to the same people who get the newsletter, they would not be allowed to do that, because they would not have that access.

Karen:  That’s correct. And again, we trade rights and responsibilities every day when we’re living in strata, don’t we? So it’s gonna be interesting to see where that lands?

Jimmy:  Hmm. I mean, I, personally, I think there’s a middle ground where you could say, you can block email addresses, provided you offer some alternative means for owners to communicate with each other?

Karen:  Because that it is very difficult if you’re the disenfranchised owner, trying to get a message out, I agree with you. And you know, it’d be different if it was a small block of 12. You probably know everybody, but if it’s 798 lots,   you’ve got no chance.

Jimmy:  Absolutely.

Sue:  And I guess, also trying to communicate with investor owners, that can be really hard. You can physically post letters to owner residents, but if you’re trying to get in touch with investors as well,  who obviously live somewhere else, or might not be overseas. And that can be really hard. If you’ve got their email addresses, that’s much, much easier. But how do you contact them if there’s something wrong in your block, and if you don’t have email addresses,

Jimmy:  The other side of this is, it seems like people are now choosing when they’re asked for their email addresses to give the email address of their agent or an agent.  Especially for investors, that would be the rental agent. And we know that that’s another area of quicksand into which messages disappear and never come out, again. It just seems to me that the communication system within strata is already not working very well. And I’m not sure that banning the spread of email addresses is going to help,

Karen:  Maybe a middle ground is to enable strata managers where there is one for the building, to send things out. And there’d need to be rules around that, that they can’t  cherry pick who they do, um, let people know about, but then it becomes a decision.  

Jimmy:  Especially if you’re sending an email out to owners saying strata managers are idiots, or  they’re corrupt, or they did a terrible thing, the strata manager isn’t going to send that out, is he or she?

Karen: Why ever not?

Sue:  You could have some kind of rule or a system where the strata manager would allow one owner to contact all owners, maybe twice a year. Hmm. And no more than that. So if someone has a big is Sue:, they can contact everyone twice. But then no more, but other people can obviously respond to them  on a private email, and they can respond to them, but then they can only they can only have access to the group very limited access to the group. It’s kind of very complicated, though, isn’t it? And probably strata managers don’t have an awful lot of time to try and censor that.

Jimmy:  And it’s another it’s another Schedule B opportunity, as well, isn’t it?

Sue:  What does that mean?

Jimmy:  Schedule B are charges that strata managers you know, if you if you get the wrong strata management contract for your building, you find every letter that is opened every phone call that’s made, or even answered, you get slugged for that.

One of the things I’ve suggested is you can either have the emails, or if you ban the emails, you have to provide a platform something like StrataBox. And that sends out an email. And it says, “ Jimmy: Thomson has written an email about pets, you can access it at this website.”

So then you’re still getting an email to everybody. But it’s up to them whether they want to go and read it. And obviously, if it’s a nuisance like me, they’re gonna say, Well, I’m not gonna pay them for that.

Sue:  That sounds a good compromise. What do you think,  Karen?

Karen:  I agree. And I would think that a lot of larger schemes, that already have a website with communication built into it, or building management software, or like StrataBox that you mentioned. Hmm. That could be a really good way of managing that tension.

Jimmy:  I think it would have to be mandated, because, our building has a website. And you can log in, and you can read the bylaws and all the rest of it. But it doesn’t have that facility for owners to communicate with each other. There’s no notice board. There’s nothing that sends out an alert that somebody has posted something, well, since there’s no notice board, there are no notices. And I think a lot of buildings, like ours would say we’re happy with the way things are and we’re not going to open this up.

Sue:  I guess I guess you really do need somebody on a committee to be tech savvy and to have a real interest in maintaining the website and making it relevant for everyone. Really?

Karen:  Or an electronic noticeboard in the lift I was reading about the other day, they seemed like a good idea.

Sue:  That would be fantastic. I’ve only seen a couple of buildings with those. But they always look really, really interesting.

Jimmy: But there’s no limit. You spend all your life going up and down the lift trying to read the last part of the email.

Sue: The ones where I saw it the if they had nothing relevant to say, they just gave you news from Sky News or something. Business News and stuff. It was kind of quite fun. Really.

Jimmy:  Karen, would you rather not have your email in your building available to everyone? Are you quite happy to be harangued and belaboured with other people’s pet hates and wishes?

Karen:  Well, as a committee member, I’ve always made my mobile available to people. It depends on the community, doesn’t it and how people behave, I guess. And I’ve always been blessed with good communities. So I’ve always been happy to do that  … others, not so much.

Sue:  I remember our building at the beginning, we had a committee and the chairperson said, we weren’t allowed to let anybody know who was on the committee in case people contacted us. And he refused to put the names, even the names of the Committee on the notice board, because he said, there will be so many nuisance calls.

And we staged a coup in the building and got rid of that EC and got a new EC. And we will put our name and our phone numbers up. And it was kind of interesting, because the new chair had, I think, five personal phone calls in one year from the people who live there.

Jimmy:  But the ironic thing about the chairman, saying that he wasn’t putting up anybody’s emails or phone numbers is this whole coup happened by email, basically. And he had no idea that it was going on, because he never read his emails. So it was quite amusing, and very effective.

But I really think you know that I’m gonna go against the OCN’s point of view on this, because I think communication is absolutely critical to building communities. And, and I think anything that reduces that, without offering a reasonable and effective substitution is not a good idea at this stage. That’s just my personal opinion. And what do you think,  Sue:.

Sue: I think communication is vital, but some people do get beaten up on it and kind of go on and on and on about certain is Sue:s. And we all know those people, and they’ve become very familiar to us over the years. But I think the idea of having an alternative platform to contact people where you can opt in or opt out, I think that’s a much that’s a good compromise, really.

Jimmy: So something else that you’ve just made me think … I would make it mandatory for committee members to have their contact details available.

Sue:  Absolutely.  

Jimmy:  You know, if you want to be if you want to be elected to a committee, you’ve got to have at the very least your email address and possibly your mobile phone number. Because people will have issues and you’ve got yourself elected to help look after the building. How can you look after the building if you don’t know what’s going on?

Sue:  Absolutely ridiculous, not to be out there.  

Jimmy:  And moving on. Wheel clamping are you? Are you pro clamping?

Karen:  I think it’s a fabulous idea.

Sue:  I think it’s great too.

Jimmy: So we’re talking about a wheel clamping vehicles in apartment car parks which have been parked there illegally?

Karen:  Yes,   Which is one of the really big  issues that seems to come up, and not just within buildings, but where you’ve got community associations and they’re parking on the roundabout. And other crazy places.

Jimmy:  There was a scheme on the North Shore of Sydney, where the roads were common property, and it was near a station and people would just park on the roads while they went to work. When the Owners Corporation contacted the local council, the local council said, well, it’s not public road. So it’s nothing to do with us.  Sort it out yourselves. They couldn’t wheel clamp, they couldn’t tow.

But then they pointed out that if there was a fire in the building, the tower block, the fire engines wouldn’t be able to get through. And suddenly the council changed their minds and designated it as an area of their concern.

Sue:  Because the current situation is really difficult, isn’t it? If somebody parked from outside and they’ve parked in, in, say the visitor, car parking for a long period, and far longer than is allowed, or they’re parked in somebody’s private spot, there’s not very much you can do at the moment to get rid of them is there.

Karen:  It’s very difficult and time consuming. And commercial premises can wheel clamp, all I need is a notice to say  park here at your own risk, you will be well clamped if you’re parked illegally. There’s  the fabulous story that strata used to have that ability as well, until a particular minister was wheel clamped and didn’t really like the idea of it at all. And they say that it takes a long time to bring in new laws, but I hear that was pretty quick.

Jimmy:  Some laws can even come in very quickly if the right person gets behind them. I thought that wheel clamping was illegal in New South Wales, but you couldn’t really clamp anyone, anywhere.

Sue:  No, I remember there was a point when you could do it in strata buildings. I remember that very clearly. And it’s quite an expensive process. So you charged the people for the wheel clamping fee, as well, as you know, causing them enormous inconvenience and fine and things.

Karen:  It’s  a change to the Local Government Act that specifically excludes strata.   All it needs is for that exclusion to be removed.

Jimmy:  Yep. They worry that in strata we’re all running around like crazy trying to organize each other’s lives, which most people in most strata are definitely not doing. But I think they have this fear that the driver in New South Wales is king of the road, literally. And they don’t want anybody to do anything that might interfere with anybody’s ability to drive and park where they want. And of course, as strata, owners and residents, we are second class citizens anyway. So we definitely shouldn’t have that power.

Karen:  No, I think it would be for the main part used responsibly, just like everything else in strata.   And  if you’ve got an offender, I mean, imagine if it’s a disabled car space. Somebody just  slots themself in there because they’re selfish. That could be a life and death is Sue: for somebody.

Jimmy:  It’s mostly a deterrent, isn’t it? You know, more and more than it’s not about clamping cars. It’s about stopping cars from being parked illegally. And I know of one scheme where they put up signs saying, anybody parking here illegally will be clamped, and the committee members take it in turns to put their car in a prominent position and put the wheel clamp on it. So those two show they mean business.

So people come in and go, “Oh, they these guys clamp. They’ve got some exceptions and exclusion,” and drive on and find somewhere else to park.

Karen:  I think they only have to do that about every six months at they’re very close to a railway station as well.  It’s great. And they’ve got a by-law. So you know, “abide by the by-laws” signage up. But why be driven to all those lengths when the strata should be there to avoid strife and encourage harmony?

Jimmy:  Absolutely. And that’s the other part of this is it’s not the people who live in the apartment buildings who are the problem.  It’s people who are driving past; the opportunists and the tailgaters, the people who think “I’m going to get parked in here.”

And then there’s the visitor parking thing  people parking in the wrong places and parking and common property. It’s it just makes It’s a hassle. It’s just it’s not a huge is Sue:. It’s a big hassle and it upsets people and angers people and they get frustrated. And that’s why you’re right, you’ve got my hundred percent support on this. Bring back the clamp. I say!

Sue:  I think it’s fantastic. Because lots of owners corporations have tried various things over the years, I think, putting notices on people’s cars, but then obviously people just move them. So then they did use kind of sticky tape and things which would leave marks on windows and then they could be  Sue:d for causing criminal damage to vehicles.

I know there have been occasions where cars been parked for a long time. People have put warnings and warnings and when they’ve been ignored  then this kind of puts a dusting of sugar around the petrol cap to pretend that they’re put sugar in them, just to scare people really?   And we’ve all heard of buildings where they put superglue in locks as well. They do terrible things.

Jimmy: Dog poo under the door handle is uh …

Sue: Oh, really?

Karen: Oh, I haven’t heard that one before.

Jimmy:  So it’s an extension of the Vaseline under the door handle. People put a smear of Vaseline. So you put your hand on the door handle you’re “Oh, what was that? And then you know if that doesn’t work, the next stage in the escalation is to get a little bit of dog poo.

Sue:  Oh my god, you seem to know a bit much about this to me.

Jimmy:  I have a website, you may have noticed, I get a lot of stuff. Somebody told me once the most effective thing they’d done they kept putting notices on the car saying don’t park you you’re parking illegally. And the person just ignored it. Until the day they put the notice on the bonnet of the car held in place by a house brick. The note said just don’t park here. You’re parking illegally. But the house brick, people went, Oh, these guys are getting really annoyed. Where’s that brick gonna be the next time I come?

Karen:  I can hear people taking notes.

Sue:  Danger!

Jimmy:  Unfortunately, in the early days of Flat Chat, I told the story about really, really annoying neighbors who turned out probably to be not just drug dealers, but drug manufacturers.

And so they  people were sending them letters about the noise that we’re making and parking illegally and all the rest of it and getting nowhere. So eventually they took a matchstick and superglue and stuck it in their door lock. And then the drug manufacturers just moved out the building.

But for years after I wrote that, this guy would come up to me at conferences and seminars and say, that piece of advice you gave us was the best ever. I think of all those locks superglued on my very dodgy advice. All right, so bricks and dog poo. That’ll do it until they bring in the clamping law.

Sue:  When is the review gonna finish?

Karen: I think we’re getting the discussion paper late November and to the public consultation is December to March. And they hope to have report out towards the end of 2021. So it’ll be quicker than the last one. Oh, the last ones took five years.   So God, that was that was humongous.

Jimmy:  Yes. But that was the 2016 law, isn’t it?   Which was quite it’s funny, because recently, I’ve had to trawl through the Victorian strata law, which is 2006, the Queensland strata law, which is even earlier than that. You realise, we feel our laws are a bit out of date now, and New South Wales in New South Wales, but we’re so far ahead of everyone else.

On that note,  Karen, I know you’re ahead of everybody on everything. So I’ll let you get back to your weekend. Thank you for talking to us. Again. Always good to get your point of view. And we’ll try to catch up with what’s happening in OCN, again soon.

Karen:  Well, community title laws are coming to the table.  

Sue:  Oh, that’s next.

Jimmy:  Oh, gosh. I might have to start a whole new website.

Karen:  Oh, having just been developing one I can recommend against that.

Jimmy:  When is the new website up and running?

Karen:  Oh, we’re aiming for the eighth of October. I am going to celebrate.

Jimmy:  Fantastic. Oh, that’s good. Okay, what? Well, it’s ocn.org.au if you want to see the old website before it becomes new and swish and slick, and, but it’s still got lots of good information right now. Thanks very much, Karen.

Sue:  Thanks.

Karen: Thanks, guys.

Jimmy:  Bye.

Jimmy:  It’s interesting that  Karen is kind of in favor of limiting email addresses. I was a bit surprised by that. I mean, considering as she said, when she was on a committee, she had her mobile phone number.

Sue:  They’re talking about all the owners who aren’t on the executive committee really, whether they should be allowed to be bothered by other people.

Jimmy:  Well, as I say, I think the compromise solution is a good idea of having another platform where you can opt in and opt out of those emails. I think that’s great. But that would have to be compulsory, you’d have to say to owners, corporations, if you don’t want the emails to be made available, you have to have a platform that does these functions.

It encourages people to submit their ideas to the platform, and you cannot edit them. You can’t censor them. But people get alerted by the platform that the you know, here’s somebody has written, and this is the headline.   And if you want to read it, click   

I think that’s a great compromise, because otherwise owners, corporations, I mean, we know how secretive they can be they, they get paranoid about anybody coming up with an idea that doesn’t agree with their thoughts, and they just shut everyone down. And you get to the point in some places where people just, they have good ideas, and they just don’t, they can’t, they don’t want it.

They feel discouraged. They don’t want to express it, because they know that it goes into this bucket of nothingness, and nothing ever gets out, huh, okay.

After this, we are going to have our Hey, Marthas for the week.

Hey, Martha! Pet bans and Flat Chat figures

Jimmy:  And we’re back. So what is your Hey Martha for this week?

Sue:  Well, I was just going to catch up on the huge pet issue. Remember an owner who has a pet in a non-pet building?. And is going to the court of appeal to appeal a ruling that she can’t have the pet.

Jimmy:  This is the same person who went to NCAT and got a ruling in favor.

Sue: And then the building went to appeal. And they ruled against her. And now she’s going to the court of appeal … she went last week. And she won the first part because they read her appeal could be heard. And now they’ve heard her appeal, and they’ve reserved judgment.

So we’ll be getting that judgment in a few weeks or a few months. You know, we never quite know how long it’s going to take those three judges to come back. But so that’s the position there. And in New South Wales parliament, the animal Justice Party had put an amendment to the parliament saying that there should be no blanket bans on pets ever allowed.   

That went through that passed in the upper house. And it was due to go to the lower house last week. And it was withdrawn because I think the AJP are now in negotiations with the government over the nature of the amendment. So we’ll have to see what happens here as well.   So basically, I’m saying no news to report. Sorry,  Jimmy:.

Jimmy:  Well, we know that the appeal that was allowed is a two part process. And first of all the they listened to the basic evidence and they say, there’s enough grey area here that we should hear the appeal.

Sue:  I think they check whether there’s a point of Law at stake. Okay. And they’ve agreed to that.

Jimmy:  I’ve also heard that there was certain things that the anti pet lobby put forward that weren’t permitted as part of the consideration of the law.

Sue:  Well, it’s hard because I think the appeals process is a very strict protocol. So there are lots of things you know, normal people would think, Oh, well, we can say this. But no, if it’s on a point of law, then a lot of the evidence that that different parties might want to put forward is ruled as inadmissible, they can’t bring that up.   

So it’s gonna be interesting to see what they what comes out this ruling. I think probably both sides would say the whole situation is a complete and utter mess. And it would be nice to have some kind of clarity whichever side that the judges come out on. It will be good, as pointer for the future.

Jimmy:  I’m very much in favor of my idea (laughs), which is that every building at the next AGM has to put an item on the agenda just for the next AGM. If you’ve got a no pets bylaw, and you can get 75% of people in your building to support that, then that is it. You are now officially no pets.

If you’ve got a pro pet bylaw, same applies you get 75% of people to support that you’re officially pet friendly. And anything in between whichever you’ve got no pets or pet friendly. If you can achieve that 75% then it basically is okay. This is how our bylaw is at the moment, but it could change.

Sue:  Hmm.

Jimmy:  And this is for people who don’t want pets, buying in, thinking, well I can choose this building which is solidly pet friendly, or I can choose this building that is solidly against pets. And if I choose one in the middle, it could change

 Sue:  That’s hard though, isn’t it really choosing one of the middle that that building might be really fantastic for you might be in the right location at the right age might be the right design. And the developer and stuff.  You move in there with your dog. And then suddenly they have a meeting and it changes.   

Jimmy:  But you’d have grandfathering provisions.

Sue: Oh, okay. So anybody living there could keep their animals but nobody new can have one. Oh, that’s interesting.

Jimmy:  They should just come to me. If the government would just come to me and say,  Jimmy, what should we do about this? I have the answers. (laughs)

Sue:  I think they know by now, at the same time, don’t forget there is still a petition going to the New South Wales parliament. saying that we should it should shouldn’t be decided on 75% votes, if 50% of people are against pets, then pet should still be allowed.

Jimmy:  If 50%? What?  Is this a new law that says that anything that you want, you can’t have?

Sue:  (Laughs) I think the idea is that you don’t need a 75% majority to overturn a blanket ban on pets, you just need a 51% majority to overturn a ban on pets. I think that’s it.

Jimmy:  The government itself is creating that precedent with their sustainability bylaws.

Sue:  Well, that hasn’t gone through Parliament  as they want it to. I

Jimmy:  If it hadn’t been for the Animal Justice people it would have gone through. So they’re saying, Oh,  if it’s something important, like sustainability, which is important, you only need a 51% majority to make sustainable improvements to common property. That’s opened the door.

Sue:  Maybe that’s just non-controversial. So it’s okay. Because who’s against solar power?

Jimmy:  The American president? People who think that coal and gas are the answer and global warming is a myth.

Now, my Hey, Martha, thank you for asking. I just thought people should know that the Flat Chat website in the past month has averaged 10,000 page reads a week.

Sue: Wow, that’s great.

Jimmy:   We are getting more traffic than we’ve ever had in the whole history of Flat Chat. On our big day, which is a Wednesday, when the newsletter goes out, last week 2500 individual visitors came on to the website.

Sue:  Oh, that’s fantastic. So you’re getting some value from it?  

Jimmy:  Well, they keep coming back. So somebody is getting something out of it. And if I had wood nearby, I would touch it, because you can always curse yourself with these things. But 10,000 page views in a week, every week for the past month.

Sue: Great. It’s good.   

Jimmy: And on that note, I’d better go and write some more stuff for the website. Keep all these people happy.  Good to talk to you again,  Sue:.

Sue:  Nice to talk to you, too.

Jimmy:  We’ll talk again next week. And thank you all for listening. Bye.

2 Replies to “Podcast: Now you can read it as well as listen”

  1. Avatar Jimmy-T says:

    If you want to start a discussion or ask a question about this, log into the Flat Chat Forum (using the link above). More people will read it there and you can more easily keep track of responses.

  2. Avatar woodg62 says:

    Never listened to the podcasts – not enough time. But the transcription I can read in only a few minutes, and it also allows me to quickly and easily skip over topics that don’t interest me. Keep them up!

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