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Flat Chat

Rumbles from the Concrete Jungle

In Strataland, like in space, no one can hear you scream. However much strata owners complain about being let down or ripped off, it seems our state government either believes there are no serious problems or it simply doesn't want to know.

However, this "hear no evil" approach will be seriously challenged when Australia's biggest-ever conference on strata is held on the Gold Coast next month.

Conference chairman and strata expert Professor Chris Guilding will demand that governments listen to the people who pump millions of dollars into the strata industry every year. Yes, folks, he means us.

Prof Guilding says there's a serious imbalance between who governments listen to and who has to live with the decisions they then make.

"When we think about lobbying the Government, there isn't a level playing field at all," he explains. "The owners have very little say, and no power. Government has to recognise these groups and help them to have a better coordinated voice at all levels. "

He has a point. Developers have pressure groups like the Urban Development Institute of Australia, the Property Council of Australia and the highly entertaining Urban Taskforce to push their views.

Building managers have the Australian Residential Accommodation Managers Association and strata managers have the Institute of Strata Titles Management and the National Community Titles Institute.

Who do we have? Small, unfunded volunteer groups like the NSW-based Owners Corporation Network, the Unit Owners Association of Queensland, a fledgling band in Victoria and worthy but narrow-focus groups like Resnet.

Ironically, whenever developers, managers and politicians sit down to agree on what they're going to do to us next, it's on OUR dime. Our taxes pay the pollies' wages and our property purchases and strata levies finance the other bunch.

You'd think they'd let us sit at the table, considering we're picking up the tab.

The Griffith University conference - Strata & Community Title in Australia for the 21st Century - will cover this and a whole range of other issues at the Gold Coast International Hotel from August 22 to 24. For more details log on to

First published SMH July 2007