News that residents of the Opal Towers are planning to sue the State Government over its alleged failure to guarantee the building standards of their crumbling apartment block may be just the first twist in what could turn out to be a long tale.
According to a story on the ABC’s website, and other media outlets, a group of Opal Towers owners is suing the Sydney Olympic Park Authority – which is owned by the NSW state government – rather than the builder or developer, because NSW is the original owner of the site and considered the “developer” as it owns 11 affordable-housing apartments in Opal Tower.
More significant than any sense of moral responsibility is that fact that there is greater certainty that the state will have the money to pay compensation if the class action suit proves successful — whereas the developer, Ecove, and builder, Icon, could be forced into administration if the ultimate compensation turned out to be more than they could financially handle.
There’s no suggestion, by the way, that liquidation is on the cards … but it’s a possibility, nonetheless.
Papers submitted to the Supreme Court this week could also be a shrewd tactical move by owners as they are seek access to building plans – something that will be absolutely vital to any future legal actions.
In any case, it may be that the state government could cross-sue the developer and builder for their part in the scandal.
However, speculation that this is the first step towards owners taking action against the state government for past failings in protecting consumers is far from a real possibility.
The Opal and Olympic Park are special cases, and any notion of holding the government generally liable for the results of their or their predecessors’ neglect belong in the same category of whimsy as politicians being prosecuted for lying to constituents.
That said, all power to the litigious elbows of the Opal owners. Our state politicians have dozed through a dozen wake-up calls in strata … maybe this one will get their attention.