The new Queensland attorney-general Jarrod Bleijie inherited a government review of the management rights system developed here in Queensland.
At a recent public seminar at Mooloolaba organised by Archers Body Corporate Management, the new minister outlined his initial reaction to the body corporate legislation reform priorities of the government, overturning previous positions. While he says he will carefully consider all 217 submissions to the government on the issues paper on management rights developed by the previous government, Mr Bleijie said changing the system of on-site management would not be a priority.
“While there may be some flaws and faults in it, the Queensland system of on-site caretakers is a good system. Other states are looking to copy our model,” the minister said. “Caretakers are businesses and for them to have successful financing of businesses, caretakers need to have secure, long term contracts,” Mr Bleijie said.
This news will be a major blow to the people now running the Unit Owners Association of Queensland who have tried to convince the government that caretaking contracts should be limited to three years and be non-renewable. These predominantly high-rise resident owners that now comprise the UOAQ committee have developed a no-compromise approach to negotiating management rights issues, a position that makes it difficult to include them in industry discussions about the issues.
The minister is no stranger to body corporate laws in Queensland. Before he entered parliament Mr Bleijie worked for two different Sunshine Coast legal practices and specialised in this area of the law. He said that there are some caretaker issues that could and should be worked through and conceded that problems with caretakers could occur right from the start with inadequate or unsatisfactory contracts set up by developers.
“Caretaker performance issues are a problem sometimes,” he said. “It is possible under the legislation to get rid of caretakers who are not doing their jobs but difficult to implement.”
Mr Bleijie was critical of the most recent amendments to the lot entitlements section of the Body Corporate and Community Management Act. “We have this ridiculous situation where the previous government kept changing the rules every few years. The latest revision, the three year opportunity to revert almost automatically without even going to a vote of the body corporate to original lot entitlements is particularly strange, given that this change is in total disregard to the fact that changed lot entitlements had been worked out through specialist adjudications or the district court to determine fairness.”
The minister intends to stop this opportunity for individual owners to revert the complex’s lot entitlements as soon as he can.
The attorney-general said regulation of Queensland body corporate managers would be difficult to accomplish since it would be difficult to add more regulation. “The government’s policy is to reduce red tape by at least 20%. Adding more regulations and rules will be hard to justify.”
This will be difficult news for the organisation representing body corporate managers, Strata Communities Australia. One of the prominent board members of SCA Q, Colin Archer, hosted the minister and introduced him to the 170 guests at Mooloolaba on 25 July. Colin Archer and the rest of the SCA Q board have been championing the licensing of body corporate managers in Queensland for many years. Strata managers are licensed in New South Wales.
In a lengthy session of answering questions from unit owners, including on-site managers, the minister was presented with many individual complex issues to do with management contracts, unfairness of set ups and construction defects problems. A vigorous defence of the present system of on-site management by well known ARAMA Sunshine Coast identity, Maria Dukes, prompted enthusiastic applause from many in the audience.