The answer is yes according to Lord Acton. He also gave us the line about all power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
These quotes came to mind as I prepared for my debate at last week’s Australian College of Community Association Lawyers. I was the sole speaker for the affirmative – that our present strata powers are sufficient.
There was a battalion of lawyers speaking against me – well three anyway. They argued for increased powers for strata entities to accommodate long-term agreements for sustainability infrastructure and other forms of commercial undertakings necessary to meet the demand of our modern market.
The point I developed was a simple one; that strata entities are creatures of limited powers because they are creatures of unlimited liability.
If we want our bodies corporate and owners corporations to step up to providing all sorts of goods and services of the type that the market might want or the planning authorities might desire, then we have to manage risk.
At the moment, membership of a strata bodies brings with it, unlimited liability for the members. In other words if something goes wrong, and there is no insurance to cover the loss, then an administrator will be appointed and a levy struck and collected from each owner to foot the bill. Ultimately homes will be sold to pay the levies if that is what it takes.
This is not the outcome we want. So before everyone gets too carried away with romantic notions of creating community and place, we should think through what happens when bad things happen to the great unpaid men and woman on our committees who are already struggling to keep up with our demands on them.