QLD: When Two Into One Won’t Go – Why would anyone combine two quite different proposals into the one Motion?
This article about separate proposals being bundled into one Motion has been supplied by Wayne Stevens (UOAQ President) Unit Owners Association of Queensland (UOAQ).
It was not so long ago in Queensland that the Alternative Motions regimei was introduced. It requires that all proposals with a common purpose be included in the one Motion with Alternatives.
For example, if there are two quotes for painting the building, the motion could be:
Do we paint the building?
If you voted YES, do you prefer:
(a) Painter A @ $xxx?
(b) Painter B @ $xxx?
This motion has, first, a threshold question in the form of a motion from the Committee asking whether any of the proposals will be adopted, and then, if so, which one. These alternatives are usually separated by the word ‘OR’.
But it seems that as soon as you sort out one problem, another pops up.
A practice has emerged where two quite different proposals are being bundled into the one motion. They do not have a common purpose, and they are not alternatives. They are joined together with the word ‘AND’, and are presented to the owners in the one motion.
Here is a typical example:
STATUTORY MOTION Ratification of Insurance Renewals
We resolve that the Body Corporate confirm the insurances set out below AND the Committee be authorised to seek quotations and effect a renewal of the policies at the expiration of these policies.
This motion clearly contains two discrete proposals:
- The first one is the mandatory Statutory Motion which requires the owners to review, at their AGM, their current strata insurancesii
- The second concerns something else ie placement of their future strata insurance.
What happens, then, if an owner wishes to endorse the current insurance policies but wants to reject the proposal about next year’s insurance…or vice versa?
The simple answer is, the owner can’t. There is just the one motion, and the owner has just one vote per motion. The owner can either approve both proposals in the motion or reject both, but cannot approve one but reject the other.
This doesn’t seem fair and reasonable to us. Moreover, it just doesn’t make sense.
According to the BCCM Commissioner’s Office, there is no specific statutory impediment to this practice of bundling motions.
Nor can we find any definitive decision in the reported adjudications.
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There is perhaps some guidance in a recent Adjudication Applicationiii. The Applicant# questioned the reasonableness of bundled motions. However, the Adjudicator was not required to rule directly on this point: it was found that the motion in dispute was void because, inter aliaiv, it ‘did not fully explain the situation such that it was misleading to owners’ and ‘The Motion is poorly worded, confusing and nonsensical’v.
Harsh words indeed, but they don’t resolve the current dilemma.
We are left in the position where we don’t know if this finding is just a one-off, limited to the particular facts of that case, or whether it has broader application ie as a general principle, you cannot bundle two or more different proposals into the one motion.
So far, this practice of bundling motions seems to be limited to the strata insurance Statutory Motion.
It is our experience that this practice generally occurs where the Body Corporate Manager sources the strata insurance quotes and claims the commission, generally up to 20% of the premium.
The Statutory Motion itself requires nothing more than a review/confirmation of the current year’s strata insurance, and the BCCM legislation takes pains to specify what has to be included in that motion. These directions contain no reference to future strata insurance.
Why Body Corporate Managers persist with this bundling option is unclear. It certainly offers no benefit to the owners.
No doubt it will continue as a general practice until an obliging owner takes the question of bundled motions to Adjudication and obtains an unambiguous ruling.
In the meantime, you may care to ask your own Body Corporate Manager:
Why can’t we split these two different proposals into two different Motions so we can vote on each one separately?
[# Disclaimer: Ross Anderson is an Executive Member of the UOAQ and was the Applicant in both Adjudications referred to in this article. Ross contributed significantly to this particular article submitted on behalf of the UOAQ for publication in LookUpStrata.]
i BCCM (Accommodation Module) 1997 s.70 (see also Standard Module s.72)
ii Accommodation Module s.175 (see also Standard Module s.177)
iii NORTHCLIFFE  QBCCMCmr 211
iv Among other things
v NORTHCLIFFE paras.48 & 57
vi This is somewhat rhetorical…see WAVES  QBCCMCmr 132
vii It is noted that NORTHCLIFFE has listened to the Adjudicator and split the two proposals into separate motions for their forthcoming 2016 AGM.
Are you interested in more information about Queensland Body Corporate Managers or strata legislation particular to Queensland? Visit our FactSheet: Committee Concerns, FactSheet: Strata Managers OR FactSheet: Strata Legislation Queensland