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  • #7304
    Jimmy-TJimmy-T
    Keymaster

    QUESTION: Is there any organised lobbying going on to limit the number of proxies that may be held by any one owner at general meetings? I believe that in Queensland it is restricted to two.

    At a townhouse complex, from where we recently moved because we could not stand it any longer, one woman managed to acquire at least seven proxies from people with little command of English. Is there anyone in authority we can write to about this? – HPC, via Flat Chat Forum.

    ANSWER: There is certainly a concern in strata about the ‘clustering’ of proxy votes into too few hands, one reason it’s illegal for developers to demand them in contracts.  However strata law in NSW is so deeply flawed that the issue is pretty far down the hit list for change.

    I hadn’t heard about the limit in Queensland so it may just be wishful thinking.  The problem with limiting the number of proxies one person can hold is that you could disenfranchise owners who can’t find proxy holders who agree with them and haven’t exceeded their limit.

    That said, by not limiting it, you allow clustering through either active campaigning such as you describe or ‘blind’ proxies passed to office-bearers because they haven’t screwed up recently.

    I would favour a voting form that goes out with the agenda with a yes or no box on all the agenda items.  That way you can campaign on issues rather than personalities which, unfortunately,  is what it usually comes down to under the current system.

    As far as who to write to, even a legal but unfair decision can be challenged at the CTTT or in court. But now that you’ve left that complex, all you can do is write to your MP and ask them if they have any clue what’s happening in strata, if not why not, and if so, what they’re  doing about it.

    Join the discussion or ask your own question at flat-chat.com.au/forum.  And Jimmy will be on the James Valentine show on ABC 702 to answer  your questions on Tuesday, March 29 at 2pm.

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  • #12604
    AvatarAnonymous

    I have found the appropriate part of the Queensland Act (see below) which does at least give some precedent to any approach to NSW legislators, which I for one intend to make and hope others will also.

    Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 (QLD)Chapter 5…

     

    Part 3 Proxies for body corporate meetings—Act, section 103

    106 Purpose of pt 3

    The purpose of this part is to prescribe matters about the appointment and use of a proxy to represent a member of the body corporate at a general meeting of the body corporate.

    107 Appointment

    (1) A voter for the general meeting may appoint a proxy to act for  the person at the general meeting.

    (2) However, the body corporate may by special resolution prohibit the use of proxies—

            (a) for particular things described in the special resolution;
    or

           (b) altogether.

    (3) An appointment under subsection (1) has effect subject to the operation of a special resolution under subsection (2).

    (4) A person must not hold—

            (a) if there are 20 or more lots included in the community titles  scheme—proxies greater in number than 5% of the lots;
    or

            (b) if there are fewer than 20 lots included in the scheme—more than 1 proxy. 

    #12605
    Jimmy-TJimmy-T
    Keymaster
    Chat-starter

    I stand corrected .  We are pretty much restricted to NSW in Flat-Chat so I wasn't aware of this but it's interesting stuff and I wonder how it works. 

    I would still worry about people who couldn't be at general meetings but couldn't find someone whose proxy allocations hadn't been exhausted. But that maystill be preferable to 'blind' proxies given to office-bearers and strata managers by default.

    I'm heading up to Queensland later this year for a strata conference so I'll try to find out.  Best of luck with the campaign – our new minister may be ripe for an overhaul of strata so give it a go.

    Meanwhile the Queensland government's fact sheet on general meetings goes a little further:

    Restrictions on proxy use include:

    • a person must not hold more than one proxy if there are less than 20 lots in the scheme
    •  a person must not hold proxies greater in number than 5 per cent of the lots if there are 20 or more lots in the scheme
    •  a body corporate manager or an associate of a body corporate manager cannot exercise a proxy
    •  a vote by proxy cannot be exercised on a motion to engage a person as a body corporate manager or a service contractor, or to authorise a person as a letting agent
    •  a vote by proxy cannot be exercised on a ballot for the election of a member of the committee
    • a vote by proxy cannot be exercised if the owner submits a written vote on the motion.

    #12609
    Jimmy-TJimmy-T
    Keymaster
    Chat-starter

    The conference I referred to – Strata and Community Title in Australia for the 21st Century – has it's own forum at
    https://strata-and-community-title-2011.ning.com so I posed the following question:

    I am curious about the implementation of the limit on the number of proxy votes that can be held by any one person voting at a general meeting.  These limits do not apply here in NSW.       

    Does this prevent clustering of proxies and 'blind' block votes wielded by chairpersons? 
    Does it disadvantage investor owners who can't find representatives who haven't already reached their limit?

    In a State like Queensland where the laws seem to actively encourage developers to use their voting power to pre-sell management rights, this seems to be anti-democratic rather than anti-block voting. Any thoughts?

    I'll keep an eye on responses or you could log in yourselves and see what you can find.

    #12703
    Sir HumphreySir Humphrey
    Strataguru

    I too would worry about disenfranchising people. In recent times our proxy forms have had all the motions numbered and people can direct their proxy to vote yes, no, or abstain on each particular motion. Alternatively they can tick the 'vote as he/she sees fit' box. At least once I have held held up my hand twice for a yes and once for a no (or something like that) since I held proxies for owners with differing views on at least one motion. I know others have done the same in our OC. The abstain option becomes important for special resolutions where the crucial number is how many negatives relative to the total vote. People neither for nor against, present or explicitly abstaining, contribute to the total “present and entitled to vote, in person or by proxy” (the phrasing in the ACT).

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