You have continuity and you have change; a campaigning slogan used in Veep, a satirical US comedy about an American running for president that stands for nothing, accurately describes the new strata voting regulations released for public consultation last week.
Continuity comes in two forms:
- The regulations maintain the right of a person to require paper and post as their method of participating in meetings. This will annoy the progressives that want to keep management fees down by using electronic communication methods.
- The traditional methods of voting in person and by proxy (albeit with restrictions on proxy farming) stay as well, not surprisingly.
Change on strata voting practices comes in so many forms it will, if allowed to go unchecked, turn strata management on its head:
- Voters will be able to participate in meetings by telephone, by video conferring and other electronic means.
- Pre-meeting ballots will allow people to vote electronically and by voting websites and postal ballots are back after having been abolished in NSW over 30 years ago.
- To these many choices add the option of secret ballots with two voting envelopes to protect the identity of the voter and you have a whole raft of new complexities and expensive procedures that no one will want to pay for.
The government has provided for voting choices but imposed none of them. It will be up to owners corporations to choose what methods they wish to use.
This will be the first test of reasonableness for strata entities under these new laws. At what price will owners corporations facilitate participation? Will strata managers do what they normally do and meekly accept that they must do more for no additional fee?
Continuity with change indeed.