Where to now for strata law reform?

Monday October 30th, 2017

What a question!

As it sits right now we have out there in the legislative ether:-

The lot entitlements discussion paper was issued in February 2014 – almost four years ago. The BUGTA one was issued in September this year.The recommendations are no doubt sitting on the state Attorney-General’s desk amidst a range of other reviews. We have no way of knowing what the legislative priorities are other than the key one of making sure you get re-elected!

Thankfully, (we think) this is the last state election where the government holds all the cards with the election date itself. At the moment we have this faux campaign with the usual media speculation about what date it will be – with the Opposition calling for certainty and the government keeping its cards very close to its chest. After this we will be the last Saturday in October in either 2020 or 2021, depending which year the next election is held.

In Queensland we have a unicameral system with no upper house or senate like most other parliaments. That means if you have the numbers on the single floor you can push whatever you want through.

They key thing for the current government is whether it wants to bother with pushing through strata law reform while it has less than six month to go in its current term of government. At this stage of the cycle, the only legislative reform is usually that which would be a guaranteed vote winner.

As much as we think the bulk of the recommendations are not contentious, there are some of them that are. The biggest would be the ability to adjust lot entitlements and also the forced sale of strata properties for economic reasons. We do not know whether the government would be inclined to address some recommendations but not all.

If the government was to consider the recommendations the process would be:-

  1. A proposal for a Bill (the draft legislation) would be drawn up by the Attorney General.
  2. That draft would go to Cabinet for approval.
  3. If approved, the Parliamentary Counsel would draft the Bill.
  4. At this stage we would all likely see what the draft Bill included and be able to provide feedback or give comment.
  5. After that (assuming the government was still minded to) the Bill would go through various ‘readings’ (which is the conversation we see from the Parliamentary floor on the news each night), and would be finally passed.
  6. A commencement date would be set to allow for whatever transition needed to be allowed for.
  7. We would then move into the new regime!

We cannot help but think we will not see anything during this term of government, but stranger things have happened.

Until then we simply have to ‘live in the now’ and operate as we are, not as what might be.

This article was contributed by Frank Higginson, Director Hynes Legal.