A Legislative Paradox of Power

There is a paradox in the legislative approach to strata titled law making in Australia. Our legislators would have us take responsibility for our own strata title environs but place such restrictions on the freedom of those elected to do so that no one ever quite steps up to the mark of responsible self determination.

Consider the chairperson. This is the person prepared to put their hand up to run an owners corporation. They take the flak for things that go wrong without ever being thanked for the hours spent making sure things go seamlessly right. They are, by virtue of the apparent responsibilities that go with the title called to sort out squabbles between neighbours and are accosted at any time of the day or night concerning the common property and about the latest leak or parking problem. In fact, despite being dragged into these issues almost daily, the only power our lawmakers give to this person in return is the power to chair a meeting. Big deal! The chairperson doesn’t even have the power to spend a minor amount of money on buying a round of drinks for the committee let alone to keep the wheels turning between meetings and to make important decisions in cases of emergency when a meeting or circular resolution of the committee is not practicable. After a tough day, when the chairperson is trying to do the best he or she can in a practical way, someone, most probably a retired lawyer, will say – ‘hey you don’t have the power to make that call’ – and the camel’s back will snap – another resignation and another good meaning but inadequately empowered chairperson will step up to be slaughtered.

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