Green signals for the law review

Ninety minutes of undivided attention from the attorney-general of Queensland to the leaders of the strata sector is the signal to us that the next phase in the engagement process relating to the property law review has begun.
Now in its third year, the law review is back on track and we are confident that it will bring change to some simple issues affecting strata communities in Queensland.

Ms D’Ath recently addressed SCA members at the SCA (Qld) Annual Conference and privately met with invited SCA guests from across the strata sector, who gave insights into the challenges and opportunities in strata land. The attorney-general took time to listen to strata managers, service providers, the board, the education committee and professional standards committee representatives. Encouragingly, the attorney-general also put on her hat as minister for training and skills and showed genuine interest in our education program and accreditation pathway. SCA (Qld) requires members to undertake continuing professional training and strata specific qualifications have been available for more than a decade. Her views were that SCA’s accreditation pathway is providing the much needed career pathway for strata management professionals. Our code of ethics supports consumer protection principles and she commended SCA (Qld) on its role in the absence of a licensing or regulation scheme in Queensland.

The key piece of legislation (the Body Corporate and Community Management Act) is almost 20 years old so we were hoping that the attorney would indicate a timeline on the further progression of the law review instigated in 2014 by the previous government. Ms D’Ath advised the 250 strong Queensland delegation that rushing the review would not achieve the desired outcomes. Nevertheless, we have been encouraged that the review is firmly on her agenda and that she is committed to completing it, with extensive public consultation. I was pleased that Ms D’Ath acknowledged the integrity and expertise that body corporate managers possess and that the sector is complex. In addition to the attorney’s presence at our conference, the commissioner for body corporate and community management, Chris Irons, attended all conference functions and sessions to get an understanding of our issues while offering his expertise to delegates. His support of our annual conference is a reflection of the collaborative spirit in which Mr Irons acts as commissioner. It is critical to us at SCA to maintain strong relationships as the benefits to consumers are evident.

SCA will continue to provide expertise to the QUT property law review panel and the Department of Justice while outdated laws govern a fast moving sector. The release of 15,000 lots in 2015 and another 50,000 approved throughout that year is a hugely exciting development for professionals within the industry, but without a modern legislative framework in place, it also presents a daunting challenge. Modern tools are what SCA (Qld) has called for to allow the growth in the sector to create harmonious communities. Red tape is one of the biggest hurdles to a smooth running of bodies corporate, for example committee spending limits, multiple quote requirements and the keeping of a seal. In combination with a need to modernise communication processes now that Australia Post’s standard delivery service times actually create compliance issues, these could be ground breaking reforms. Cost-cutting is one of the major benefits from these reforms and consumer protection will not be detrimentally impacted upon.

We are asking for modern legislation for modern living choices so strata managers should be able to provide for their communities, and we’re looking forward to hearing advice from the state government on when such change will be possible.

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