Podcast 95: pet ban block, websites and a new book


The big strata news of this week stopped us in our tracks. The NSW Court of Appeals has overturned a decision by the strata tribunal (NCAT) which, earlier this year, ruled that strata schemes could create “no pets” by-laws.

Just to be clear, NCAT last year twice ruled that no-pet by-laws were illegal, then the NCAT Appeals Board overturned those decisions, then the Court of Appeals, the highest court in the state, overturned the Appeals Board decision.

So now, in short, NSW strata schemes can’t ban pets.

The podcast was all set, edited and ready to go when the news came in so we plugged the mike back in, cranked up the recording software and had a chat about what this means to pets and by-laws in general in NSW and elswhere in Australia.

You can also read an extensive commentary and find a link to the full news story HERE.

After that, we go back to our original podcast which is on totally different subjects – websites and web designers. This chat was partly inspired by revamps of two websites that are very close to us – the OCN’s new look and Sue’s own website.

We chat to Owners Corporation Network’s Executive Officer Karen Stiles about what they were hoping to achieve in the revamp of OCN’s website – accessibility, authority and clarity seem to be major factors.

And then Sue tells us about her new book Healing Lives which was the impetus for giving her own website a major do-over – click on the link and see for yourself.

All this plus James Comey, Donald Trump and JimmyT’s obsession with bathroom sinks in this week’s podcast.

Listen Here


Listening is by far the best way to enjoy the pod, but if you aren’t a podder, or are hearing impaired, you can read the transcript of this episode a little further down this page.

However, be warned, it was transcribed by a computer in America – “by-laws” become “BIOS” – then edited by an an over-caffeinated Celt.

We caught most of what was lost in translation, but this is an informal chat – with tangent, upon aside, upon lateral thought – that makes a Donald Trump speech read like Shakespeare. 

But it’s fun. Enjoy!

Flat Chat 95: Transcribed

Jimmy  00:00

We were just about to lock off this podcast and put it to bed for the week, when an amazing piece of news came in, what was it, Sue?

Sue  00:10

Well, the long running battle over pets and apartments, it had gone through NCAT a couple of times in New South Wales, and then it had gone to the New South Wales Court of Appeal. And everybody expected that the Court of Appeal would say that it’s okay for buildings to ban pets if they want to ban pets with their by-laws. But an extraordinary ruling on Monday, the court ruled that a blanket ban on pets is unconscionable, oppressive and harsh. And therefore no building should be allowed to have a blanket ban on pets

Jimmy  00:43

So does that mean that it’s any apartment block anywhere in Australia you can now take your pet in?

Sue  00:51

In New South Wales, New South Wales everywhere you can take a pet in, which is quite incredible has turned everything on its head. And it really has I mean, lots of people are pretty upset. Lots of people are really happy. And as the dust settles, we’ll see what’s going to happen in the future.

But really, now there’s only one level of appeal left, and that’s to the High Court of Australia, in Canberra.


And that would be really expensive to lodge an appeal to them.


Absolutely. So one would kind of imagine that is possible. This final ruling is it, at least for the time being because as we’re talking on this podcast about the strata review that’s happening, the strata law, it could well be that people will now lobby the New South Wales parliament to introduce new legislation to allow bylaws to ban pets.

And that’s always a possibility as well, whether Parliament want to get involved. So you’d have to be a specific law saying the rules for pets are different.


That’s right.

Jimmy  02:01

It’s like the rules for extinguishing strata … the forced sales laws. The other thing is that all the costs were awarded against the building against the building that tried to  ban pets and what’s the guesstimate?

Sue  02:06

And then well,the main case was by a woman called Joe Cooper, who had a little miniature Schnauzer called Angus. And she was living in the Horizon building, which bans pets. And she was arguing that she should be allowed to have her pet there. If she’d have lost the appeal, she would have been up for costs of about $300,000. But now she has won, the court awarded costs for her. So now horizon is going to be paying her costs and their own costs, which will probably amount to about $500,000.

Jimmy  02:37

Half a million. It’s a lot of money isn’t. And while there’s about 260 apartments in the block so it’s an average pf $2,000, per person. So are they likely to want to appeal again to the high court?

Sue  02:46

I don’t know … it’s a big impost.

Jimmy  02:52

And it’s a roll of the dice, isn’t it? I mean, I’m sure they had very good legal advice that told them it was worth fighting.

Sue  03:00

I’m sure that lawyers wouldn’t say it’s a roll of the dice.  They’d say it’s good law, interpretation of case law.

Jimmy  03:04

And those the other building, of course, nearby the Elan, which had a similar case at the tribunal at the same time,

Sue  03:14

Because both of the cases were won at the first hearing the tribunal. They ruled that you couldn’t have a blanket ban. The buildings appealed against that. And the Appeals Board said yes, you can have a blanket ban. And then the court of appeal said, “Yes, we’re upholding the first ruling of NCAT, you can’t have a blanket ban.

So now the Elan, they had a case there, a guy called Bob Roden who, who didn’t have a pet, but who kind of fancied having one in the future, that he was having to pay about $30,000 to the Elan in costs because of his loss of the first appeal.

But now that the other appeal has been won, it’s possible that the building might drop its claim for costs, or he might have to go to the Supreme Court or to the Court of Appeal himself, and obviously, the Court of Appeal has just set a precedent.

Jimmy  04:10

Absolutely … because it’s the highest court in New South Wales,

Sue  04:14

Apart from the High Court of Australia, which trumps every other court?

Jimmy  04:18

That’s right. What does this mean for other buildings? Does it mean that even if you’ve got 100% of owners who don’t want pets, if one of them leaves and somebody moves in who does want a pet? That’s it, you’ve got to have pets?

Sue  04:31

It would seem so yes. Well, because the court basically ruled that you can’t dictate what people can do in the privacy of their own homes, right? You can only dictate what people can do over common property. So therefore, you can say someone has to carry their pets overcome property or they have to put it in a cat carrier or dog carrier, or so you can make it difficult for the pet owner, within reason.

But basically, you can’t restrict someone from having an animal if it’s not affecting other people.

I mean, if you’ve got a barking dog, that’s affecting other people, and you could ban that barking dog, well, that’s already in the law.


That’s already part of strata law. If you’ve got a dog, even one that’s been permitted under the by-laws,  if it becomes a nuisance, it can be moved out. And that’s something that’s always forgotten. And these arguments that you don’t have to put up with badly behaved animals, you just have to put up with badly behaved people.

Jimmy  05:26

All right. Well, what we were going to be talking about, and we are going to be talking about for the rest of the podcast is websites, your new website and Owners Corporation Network’s new website, just in case you hadn’t worked out,  I’m Jimmy Thomson.


And I’m Sue Williams.


And this is the  Flat Chat Wrap.


Wonder of websites

Jimmy  05:57

Websites are really good for apartment blocks to have … a really useful tool. And a lot of people are discovering at the moment when we’re all having to hibernate away from each other. And we can’t have actual physical meetings, that having a website is a really good way of voting and having meetings.

And it’s not just the zoom meeting thing, I think there’s an element of the zoom meeting which is missed out on, which is where people get to express a point of view at some length, and actually discuss things. And that’s where a website would be a terrific thing for a lot of apartment blocks.

Sue  06:37

How many of them have them probably only a very small percentage.

Jimmy  06:40

Quite a few. But they go in different directions. I mean, in the early days, everybody got very excited about having their own Facebook pages, which I think in just about every case I’ve heard of, it was fine to begin with. And then the person who was running it got tired of being the only person running it, or people would leave abusive messages. And so they were having to moderate them, but   nobody wants to be reading that stuff. Even though you’re going to just sit there and delete it, it kind of is wearing on your soul.

Sue  07:13

But when you imagine there’d be fewer people being really nasty on your Facebook page, which is for a specific apartment building or complex, because it’s kind of much easier for them to be tracked down,

Jimmy  07:23

You would imagine that, but it’s not true. Because people sign up with fake names. And maybe somebody who’s moving out of the building  who doesn’t have anything at stake can go on there in the last couple of weeks and just tell everybody exactly what they think of them.

Okay, it’s just words on a page or words on a screen. But some people get really badly upset by stuff like that, especially if they are the person who’s having to read it every day.

And then you’ve got the professional off-site, web based management, things like StrataBox, for instance, where somebody else basically sets it up for you. And if need be, somebody off site can check for abuse, or defamation, or things like that. There probably aren’t that many buildings that have their own dedicated in house website. But there’s a lot of buildings that are accessing that facility in some way or another.

Sue  08:21

Because as a journalist  I write stories about apartment buildings, and I often go online to look for their websites, and very few seem to have them. Often when they do have them they just tend to be for show almost … they talk about what facilities the building has, and has very little else.

There’s no contact details. And there’s some  nice pictures of the building and that kind of thing, and which is probably as much as most of many people think they should have.


But I think there’s an opportunity there, especially at these times when we can’t have face to face meetings, for people to say we’ve got an issue in the building, or we’ve, we’ve got an idea has come up some positive idea for the building has come up. What does everybody think?


It’s a great way of doing surveys and things like that? And also, when we’re locked down? It’s a great way of people saying, I’m running my business from my apartment at the moment. Does anybody know a good graphic designer? Or does anybody know a great writer who can do something for me. It can be a real exchange of skills as a personal thing, too?

Jimmy  09:23

I think one of the reasons that a lot of in-house websites fail. I’m going to blame the web designers. Oh, right. No, we know some web designers and the fine people and they do great work. But there are also people I have encountered along the way. Some of them were friends, or were friends …


were friends.


I think there’s two kinds of web designers. One of them will say to you, what do you want this website to do? Why do you feel you need a website and how do you want it to work? And you tell me that and I will give you something that provides you with that. Those are the really good guys or women.

Then there are the other ones who will say, okay, here is the website that you need. And suddenly you are adapting to their needs rather than them developing your needs. And there’s a lot of those latter types.

A close second on the irritating website designer front are the friends who do a bit of website design, who say I’ll do your website for you, and you say, terrific. We had a friend whose brother did her website, and every time she wanted to get it changed, she would say to him, why don’t you just give me the codes? And I’ll take it to a professional. And he would get really offended and say, No, no, no, no, I’ll do it. I’ll do it, but never get around to it.


And that happens with friends in business and stuff like that.


And then there’s the people who  it’s the triumph of fashion over function. I can think of one website, which is an in-house website, where it was so dark, and the font, the typeface, was white coming out of black. And it was so small. I’m sure that any older people or people with slightly impaired vision would be sitting there with a magnifying glass at the screen trying to read the words on it. Okay, it looked fabulous. That look very slick and very trendy, and very on point as far as the building was concerned, didn’t work, huh, still doesn’t work, actually.

Sue  11:40

And it puts people off actually engaging with the website too, really, because I don’t want to go into websites that are really difficult to make work and don’t really give me much back. I remember once we had a friend did a website for us. And that was another one that looked great. Who fabulous. But would it work? No.

Jimmy  12:00

No. And when we tried to get it fixed,

Sue  12:03

He said, No, you can’t change it, because it looks really great as it is. And he refused to change it anyway. So then we had to go to somebody completely different and get a whole new website drawn up.

And it’s hard, because then often the website designer has got all your material. And you might have not really filed it properly. But when you ask for it back, they say, well, that’s mine. So it can be a really stressful situation.

Jimmy  12:34

I’ve come across that thing in business as well, the web designer who wants to hold the keys to the kingdom.  I was consulting for a large building company. And they really, really needed a new website and a whole new interface, so that they could bring people in and kind of filter them at the front end of the website.

So there would be a question, Do you want this? Or do you want that? And then the question with the next layer would be, are you an owners Corporation? Or are you an individual, and that would lead you eventually, into a different part of a different part of the website, which was geared purely for the kind of thing that you needed?

And I remember sitting with the web designer, and he’s going, Oh  these days, everything is kind of it’s kind of just there. So that people, if they look for it, they’ll find it. And I am going yeah, there’s the point. If they look for it. We don’t trust people to look for it. How about we help them to find it?

So we take them by the hand as soon as they click on the first page.  And he said, yeah, well, we could do that.

And then, at the end of these long negotiations, I said, Well, what software are you using? I mean, one of the most common platforms is WordPress. But there are other much more sophisticated things, professional things in there. And this guy said, I’ve devised my own new software platform.


Danger, danger.


And I said, Wow, that is amazing. I’m so impressed. And as he was driving out of the car park, I turned to the people I was consulting for and said, no way. It’s just a world of pain. He has a very clear idea of what he wants to do. It’s not what we want or need. But when it’s done, we won’t be able to change it because he has the keys to the kingdom. And even if we took the website to somebody else they would go “we don’t know how this was built.”

Sue  14:28

I mean, it’s really difficult, I think because website designers always assume the customers are really computer literate.

Jimmy  14:34

Or they assume you don’t know anything.

Sue  14:36

Either way, I suppose, is equally dangerous. I’ve just had a new website designed. And I had a lot of problems with it. Because it’s quite hard to express exactly what you want when you don’t have it in front of you. I mean, it’s easy to to look at something and think I don’t want it like that. Or I do want it like this? But I find it quite hard to say no I think what I would like is this. And the person I hired to do it for me had a very clear idea of what it should be like …


… which was turned out to be completely opposite of what you wanted. But because you were talking different languages. I mean, that’s not to say that it’s his fault. You were unable to express to him what you wanted and needed, he was unable to express what he was planning to do with the website. But there was a middle ground. And eventually, I mean, you have your website and it looks fantastic.


It does now, Jimmy, but you’ve done hours and days and days of work on it, really. So thank you very much.

Jimmy  15:36

Thank you, you didn’t need to say that. But it’s true. But the other thing is  it’s that old thing of a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. What I ended up doing with your website, a properly briefed web designer would have been able to do in a quarter of the time, because I was having to learn stuff as I was going.

But it is that thing of  knowing enough to know that’s not what you want. But you don’t know enough to get what you do want. And that’s where web designers come in. And I got to say in defense of web designers. A lot of people know a little bit about websites, or they know somebody who knows quite a lot about websites. And so the web designer is constantly under this kind of pressure from people who, again, it’s that little bit of knowledge thing. And the web designer is also being treated sometimes as if this was their hobby, rather than their business. And so people are asking them for stuff. And they’re saying, Okay, well, that’s going to cost you more money. And it’s like, hey, you said it was going to cost this … “But you’re asking me to do more work.”

Sue  16:45

And I guess the difficult thing in pricing website as well is that some web designers say, Well, I charge this per hour. Hmm. And I think I have no idea how many hours it’s gonna take. It’s gonna take 300 or 12. I thought I’d solve this. And I said, well give me the price for the whole project. So I was given a price for the project. And then I was told, I know I’ve gone over the number of hours that I allocated for this project. I guess that’s possible with any project,

Jimmy  17:16

Especially if it’s an area that you don’t know what you’re doing. After this break, we are going to be talking to Karen Stiles, the executive officer of the owners cooperation network about their new website, which I have to say, despite all my whingeing and complaining, looks pretty good. That’s after this.


OCN online

Jimmy  17:40

And we’re back. As I said before the break we are going to be talking today again on Skype. No, not Skype, zoom. We’re zoom people now – whatever happened to Skype, remember that? I know what happened to got bought over by Microsoft. There’s a lesson for you. I’m sure it’s still there. And it’s still functioning well, for those who use it. So we’re going to be talking to Karen Stiles, who’s the executive officer of the owners Corporation network. They have just this week launched their fantastic new website. We’ll be talking to her right now.

Hi, Karen.

Karen  18:15

Morning Jimmy and Sue.

Jimmy  18:18

Very exciting developments at OCN … a brand new website.

Karen  18:22

Yes, we birthed a baby website. And I’m very excited about that. It’s been quite the journey.

Sue  18:29

It looks fantastic, looks really clean and really easy to navigate.

Karen  18:35

Thank you. A lot of time and effort has gone into that.  OCN, since its beginnings, has been at the forefront of owner advocacy. But the website just hasn’t kept up with that in terms of the look and the feel of the organization and what we can deliver to our growing membership.

I mean, the old website …

Jimmy  19:00

It was a bit hand knitted, wasn’t it? It was comfy but you wouldn’t want to use it in a storm.

Karen  19:10

It’s not the sort of thing you’d want to wear to a Christmas party perhaps?

Jimmy  19:15

But this is a very businesslike, I have to say as Sue said. It’s clean and well organized. And we haven’t dived into the back end of it yet. But I think people are so easily put off by technology that doesn’t work for them immediately. And then they just move on to something else. So it’s great that everything is laid out in such a way that users can actually access the things and find the things we’re looking for.

Sue  19:40

Iit looks very inviting and welcoming. And I can I love there’s a picture of a cat which looks exactly like our cat and in fact maybe it might be our cat but we’ve never been able to persuade him to pose for photographs. Big ginger Tom.

Jimmy  19:53

Big fluffy ginger Tom, huh? I think he’s been doing some modelling work on the sly and he hasn’t been paying his commission to us. So what do people want when they come to your website? I find to a certain extent, I can see what people have done when they visited the Flat Chat website and where they’ve gone. And it never fails to surprise me. Why do people come to the OCN website?

Karen  20:17

Mainly, they’re often coming, because they’ve got an issue in their building. And they’re looking for answers. And I think with the old website, we had so much information in there, it was overwhelming for people. So they dip a toe in, and then perhaps  rush out to find something easier.

So the new website has been deliberately designed to be much easier to navigate. There’s a suite of guides, which will be growing over time, that are just very simple, one or two pages. And then there’ll be more detail behind that. But just to make it easy for people to find answers to everyday questions in the exciting, co-operative living that is strata.

Jimmy  21:04

Yes. And there are so many questions. I think we’ve all discovered over the years that the biggest challenge in strata is to get people to ask questions, because people who are new to strata, tend to assume that things are the way they are, because there’s some immutable rule, and nothing can ever be changed. But they’re not programmed to ask questions, are they?

Karen  21:30

That’s very true. It’s sort of a cultural thing. And that’s particularly important, if you’ve just bought into a brand new building, I’m seeing more members come in with strata plan numbers in the hundred thousands. It’s amazing. And  that’s such a pivotal time, the first two years of a new building, as you two know, having bought into a brand new building, and they need to be made very quickly aware of their rights and responsibilities and alerted to things like unfair contracts, the potential for building defects, how to start building a community.  It’s anincredible thing, isn’t it, to start up a brand new, what’s essentially a medium to large business?

Sue  22:17

Because I can see, one of the first things you’ve got on the website is, if you’re new to strata, these are the kinds of things you might be asking. These are the kind of things you might want to know about. And that kind of goes through all the basics, like what is strata title? And what is common property? Which is fantastic, because we tend to forget that a lot of people just don’t know these basics, if they’re new to strata?

Karen  22:38

No, they just think it’s their own private castle higher up? It’s all about shared asset, and communal living and social agreement, which is incredibly important … how your community wishes to live and interact is different for every community, I think.

Jimmy  23:02

I think there’s one of the big differences, and it’s quite a subtle difference is the difference between common property and shared property? One of the most common arguments is this parking space, this visitor parking space is common property, therefore, I’m entitled to use it as an owner, which is not true. In most cases.

Sue  23:23

I remember once in our new building, we had a little piece of common property that we turned into the building manager’s office. And one of the residents said, Well, no, that’s common property. So I can go in there and work side by side with the building manager at his desk.

Jimmy  23:39

And it took a long, long time to persuade him that that wasn’t possible. The persuasive argument was to say, well, your balcony is common property. So we’ll be coming down and having a cup of coffee there. If you could just leave the door open when you go to work. I think they went “Oh, I see the difference, now.”

Sue  23:59

I guess all that kind of thing is confusing for new people, really. But even for people who are old hands in strata, some of the older hands too, they have to keep up with the new regulations and the new rules and what’s going on in strata as well.

Jimmy  24:11

And those things do change. And of course, we’ve got the review coming up at the end of the year of this 2015 strata laws. So that’s a great opportunity to fine tune things and bring in new things. I think I missed the boat was my submissions. I have a list of things that I want to be changed in the law. But I suspect nobody’s going to listen to me anyway. But   it’s things like you’ve got to have either a strata loan or strata, a special levy for extraordinary expenses. You can’t split them. And I think the law needs to be changed on that for sure.

Sue  24:47

On your website, you can see all the OCN advocacy and policy work so it was really interesting because if somebody has an issue that they really want to bring forward, they can have a look and see if the OCN has done that before. We’ll come along to a meeting and raise the issue and have a chat to the members about it and see how strong the feeling is. And also, you can still contact other members on your forum. Can you not?


Yes, the members forum is a great place to share experiences and trusted supplier recommendations. It’s quite active with that.

Jimmy  25:23

That’s always a dangerous area to get into, isn’t it? Because people don’t are tempted to say  whatever you do, don’t use Flat Chat Plumbing, because the guy is not actually a plumber he’s a journalist.

Sue  25:39

Is this a side business, you’re planning it to start

Jimmy  25:41

Thinking about it. Tricky times, we got to take work where we can find it.

Sue  25:46

I think a lot of people who come on I, you said before, Karen, they come on often, because they’ve got problems, it’s actually incredibly reassuring to go on to the forum and see that other people have problems as well, or they’ve been through the same situations as you’re facing. And they’ve kind of come out the other side, and they can now suggest solutions. And I just think that’s incredibly …

Jimmy  26:08

… empowering. And reassuring.

Sue  26:11

Because they come on, and they’re just at their wits’ end, often, and they’re really upset. And it’s kind of hard. If you’re involved in a dispute with the people who are in charge of your own home, I think people tend to get very emotional. So it’s wonderful to have that extra support out there and sort of help


What’s the most common issues that are raised on your forum? I know my forum is very lively in certain areas. Well, what about the OCN forum?

Karen  26:39

It’s usually about the human element of close living, how to manage disputes, somebody’s not considering their neighbors. How do you manage that, but there is a lot about  people looking at large projects. And just  has anybody done a roof membrane project before?   What are the things to look out for? That’s really good. And certainly, the feedback that we get is predominantly saying “I don’t feel so alone, now … this is a fantastic forum … really appreciate the help.”

I find OCN members really want to help each other.   We’re a community, it’s very much a network.

Jimmy  27:22

I was thinking the other day, about OCN. And you may have already done this, and so slapped me down. If it’s the case, or tell me remind my own business. Wouldn’t it be great to have a library of bylaws that people could say, Hey, we’re trying to do a bylaw for pets, or we’re trying to do a bylaw about renovations. And we don’t necessarily want to go and spend thousands and thousands of dollars. Does anybody have any ideas of what we can do? Is that something you’d consider in the future? Or do you already have it

Karen  27:55

We’ve got two pro forma bylaws that were drafted, specifically, around events that we did, and campaigns that we’re running. So one’s on short term letting. And the other is on fire safety and the rights and responsibilities of the owners Corporation, and individual owners and residents. We’re not planning to do a large number of those.

There are some proactive legal firms who are already offering bylaws at reasonable prices that have been, in the past, very expensive. I remember doing one for my own building, and it was on renovations. And I think that ran to 42 pages. I would have been happier with one page.

Jimmy  28:44

To some extent, that’s all you really need … a very simple statement of if you stuff up common property or annoy people too much we’ll stop you from doing your renovation. But it’s hard and on the one hand, the prevailing view has been that every separate job and every separate strata scheme needs a separate bylaw.

We’re about to do renovations in our place. And we’ve got a fairly extensive set of bylaws, but they do cover every possibility for every owner. And they only had to pay for one set of bylaws. They didn’t  expect the owners to pay for a new bylaw every time an owner wanted to renovate, which I think is a good thing.

Karen  29:27

It sounds like a well governed community. I like to hear this. It’s fabulous.

Jimmy  29:33

Yeah. It’s like living in Paradise.

Karen  29:39

That’s what we want to hear. And, and just back to the website and all the guides that we’ve added to the new website. That was made possible by the City of Sydney because they recognize how important it is to educate and empower owners in strata because it is such a complex living space and we’re so grateful to the city for understanding just how hard it is to grapple with some of the complexities and they’re really supporting owners more broadly in their own  government area?

Jimmy  30:14

Well, I mean, the City of Sydney probably has more strata schemes than certainly anywhere else in New South Wales. And probably in the whole of Australia, maybe

Karen  30:23

There’s a couple coming up very close out in the Hills area.

Jimmy  30:27

But I guess there’s a concentration of high rises. I mean, there aren’t that many freestanding houses, compared to the number of apartments in in City of Sydney. I suppose once you get out, heading out towards the airport and on the fringes of Randwick and stuff. Anyway, there’s a lot of apartments in City of Sydney. And they, they’re very good at this kind of thing. They’re supporting the right people, including me,

Karen  30:54

yes, the city is fantastic. They really want to make the world a better place. And with more than 80% of their constituents living in strata, that’s obviously a priority for them.

Jimmy  31:05

Okay, so can anybody go on your website? And obviously, there’s a members-only section. But membership of the OCN isn’t that expensive, is it?

Karen  31:18

For an individual it’s less than a cup of coffee or a week? It’s the princely sum of $55. And schemes, we welcome scheme, small and large, and community associations, of course,



Right, how much for them?

Karen  31:35

Well, a small scheme, which is under 100, lots is $165,  largest schemes $385. But one piece of good advice on how to manage a large project, or how important sustainability is, and how easy it can be to achieve – that can save tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars for large buildings.

Jimmy  31:59

I think every strata scheme in New South Wales should join OCN even if they don’t need it, just to make sure it’s still there when they do. How’s that for a pitch? You can take that recording and just run it in your ads.

Karen  32:19

And it’s the independent voice of strata owners. It is a very important vehicle for having a voice at government tables.

Jimmy  32:30

And that’s been really important. And we should mention that there’s a picture of you with David Chandler, the Building Commissioner related to your pod, would you call it a broadcast?




Vodcast, which I thought had something to do with drinking, but apparently not.

Karen  32:50

Yes, the building Commissioner is doing the most amazing things in the construction space. It’s been really wonderful to see the progress that he’s making. He hit the ground running. And it’s been so good for the good industry players. And, obviously, for consumer protection down the track. He’s putting in very strong foundations for a much more nimble, educated, well governed industry.

Jimmy  33:24

It’s wonderful. He’s putting in strong foundations, literally and figuratively. I have to say that picture on the website, I might steal that and invite people to put captions in and say what you two are thinking, as you stare at each other across a table. It’s almost like whose round is it?

Sue  33:51

I think you’ve got your eight minute interview, I think, as the vodcast on the site, which will be really good to look at. Can anybody access that?

Karen  34:00

Yes, they can.


All right. There you go.

Sue  34:02

And it’s ocn.org.au. That’s right, isn’t it? That’s right. Yep.

Jimmy  34:07

Well, good luck with it. I know your newsletter. If it hasn’t gone out already will be going up soon and getting people on to the website. And, and I think people will be pleasantly surprised when they go there because I think it looks fantastic.


It’s really easy to navigate. Looks great, very inviting, and very professional, which is good.

Karen  34:28

Thank you. That’s that’s exactly what we wanted to deliver.

Jimmy  34:33

I’m sure that was in your plans right from the start. Right. Well, thanks so much, Karen. And we can let you get back to as your weekend started yet or have you got another eight hours of work to go before the end of the day?

Karen  34:45

OCN’s work on behalf of strata owners is never over.

Sue  34:51

We better let you go then. Thank you so much, Karen. All the very best. Thank you.


Jimmy  34:57

It is a nice looking website. Yes, really. fantastically quite slick and professional and

Sue  35:02

And it looks it does look so inviting. It’s great.

Jimmy  35:06

It reminds me of the process I went through in my own website, the Flat Chat website, which started off as this kind of chocolatey, brown dark sort of hand knitted homemade biscuit look to it. And then I realized through a couple of iterations of the website that our readers needed something a bit more reassuringly professional. So I think we’re kind of got the balance just about.

Sue  35:33

Looks good these days.

Jimmy  35:34

Lots of pictures and fun and lots of choice of things. And this fabulous podcast as well.

Sue  35:42

Is there? I was gonna say, well, what’s the fabulous podcast someone is doing?

Jimmy  35:48

We now have the added benefit of the transcription, which is another two hours of my life. Every week, I have to go through and take out the more ridiculous mistranslations, things lost in translation. Things like by-laws become BIOS, it’s a computer thing you see, computers are just like people, they’re always going to go to the stuff they know.

When we come back, we’re gonna have our Hey Marthas for this week. That’s after this…

{NB:  Hey Marthas was mistranscribed as “home office” then “hair motto”}


Hey Martha

Jimmy  36:25

And we’re back. So what’s your Hey Martha for this week?

Sue  36:28

Well, I’ve spent a big chunk of this week watching the TV series Comey Rules about James Comey and Donald Trump. And it’s only two episodes, but each one is 90 minutes. But I found it deeply, deeply disturbing. And I had nightmares after I’d been watching at night. Because to actually see what happened  in the run up to the 2016 election. And to remember all that stuff again, and to get a kind of historical view of what happened back then, is quite shocking. I mean, so much of it was really vile. But it’s been kind of overshadowed by all the vilel stuff that’s happened since and you tight kind of forget the nastiness that happened at the time of the election. And I just found it incredibly shocking to be reminded of all that stuff.

Jimmy  37:18

I remember it brought back vividly the memory of waking up the day after the election. We all thought it was going to be close, but it was going to be Hillary, even though the idiot James Comey released that information that they were had reopened the investigation into her.

Look it’s based on his book, to a certain extent it’s self-serving. And it kind of explains why he felt the honorable thing to do was to tell people that he had reopened the investigation, and then make it get it done as quickly as possible. So they could tell people that there was nothing there.

And of course, what we’re hearing all now from Trump is she should be in jail.   he’s saying that he’s attacking William Barr, his great big puppy dog of an attorney general, for not having indicted Hillary and Obama and Biden. He actually says they should all be in jail right now. And that’s the stamp of a dictator. The first thing you do, is you jail, your political opponents.

Sue  38:21

Sure. And when you talk about Comey, he thought it was the honorable thing to do. It shows how old fashioned honor has no place whatsoever in US politics of today. No, it’s not respected is not regarded in any way. And it just creates weakness. Because Comey thought he was doing a good job. But in fact, it led to a disaster in so many ways.

Jimmy  38:47

And the last time I saw any vestiges of that honorable behavior, when John McCain was running against Obama.. And he was doing a town hall meeting. And this woman in the audience said, “how, can we deal with this guy … he’s a Muslim and he’s a terrorist,” meaning Obama and John McCain stopped, and said, “No, Barack Obama is an honorable and decent man. He is not a terrorist.” And that is why Donald Trump hated John McCain, because he wasn’t toeing the Trump party line, even though Trump wasn’t running for election at that point.

Sue  39:27

And it’s fantastic when those honorable moments come up. I mean, in Australian politics, the moment that really struck me was when Pauline Hanson went into parliament, dressed in a burqa and George Brandis stood up and really called her out for it. And that was most unexpected, because he was pretty much right wing

Jimmy  39:43

He was in the Liberal Party. But it was it was significant, wasn’t it? And that was an honorable thing to do. I was sure you were going to mention something else there because somebody was just saying that in the debate between Kamala Harris and Mike Pence, at one point, she turned around and said, I will not be lectured to by this man …

And everybody in Australia is going, that’s our Julia. And it’d be nice to think that, because that speech went around the world. And I’m sure a lot of feminist left wing female politicians that would have really stuck with them.


Sue  40:30

That was such a great line, wasn’t it.  And what’s your Hey Martha this week,

Jimmy  40:32



Oh, okay.


I don’t know if you’ve been aware of the website. For the past few weeks, I’ve been running a series about our bathroom renovations. It’s funny, because we went into one of the shops. And we went in twice, and then just sat down at home and went through the internet and came back with a list of stuff we wanted, and said show us that, and show us this and just buy it.  But we were so close to just going in there and saying, here is every cent of money that we own, just tell us how to spend it. We we don’t care anymore.

But I remember saying to the guy, don’t worry, we’re not going to be these people who are going to be changing their minds every two minutes, about what kind of tap they want and whatever several times. And the last thing was the kind of bathroom sink I wanted that I had in my mind. And this is one of the problems and it comes back to the internet and websites.

You go on a website and you look for what you’ve searched for and sometimes find exactly what you’re looking for, but it’s out of stock or it’s left handed rather than right handed or it’s too expensive. And you think okay, we’ll move on. I’ll sort of moderate my tastes in that regard.

But every time you go on the website, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing what you’re looking for. You could be reading American politics, you could be doing the New Yorker crossword. What’s in the ad that pops up in front? That sink, the sink of your dreams.

So I decided I wasn’t going to get the sink of my dreams. And I decided on a different style completely. And ever since whenever I’ve walked into my bathroom, I look at the sink that’s there already. And I think I’m going to be so disappointed when I don’t get the sink of my dreams.


So now you’re going for the sink of your dreams?


Right. And on that note, Sue, thank you again so much for giving up your valuable time at the weekend.


Thanks. Okay, Jimmy, now that we have my website …


One of the reasons that Sue has a new web design for which, can I just tell you the web address is

suewilliams.com.au. So you look at that on your computer, and this fabulously well designed website will come up. And it’s full of stuff about her new book, which is Healing Lives, it’s called and it’s about … what’s it about Sue?

Sue  43:18

It’s about the Australian icon Dr. Catherine Hamlin who went over to Ethiopia and set up the world famous fistula hospital. And when she was there, she saved the life of a young Ethiopian peasant girl called Mamitu who was so grateful that she started working in the hospital.

And now these days, she is one of the top fistula surgeons in the world, and the world’s top surgeons go to her to learn how to operate on fistula, which is kind of women’s terrible childbirth injuries where they’ve had obstructed labor. And it’s a story of the incredible friendship between Katherine and Mamitu which has changed over 60,000 women’s lives. And it’s called Healing Lives.

Jimmy  44:06

So it’s out on Tuesday the 14th, in the bookshops,

Sue  44:08

And it’s very inspiring, because I think really, in these COVID days, it’s nice to have really great stories. And I mean, there’s tragedy, and horror and everything there. But it’s a fantastic good news story which is wonderful. And it’s it was a real privilege to spend time with Katherine Hamlin who passed away in March sadly. And with Mamitu Gashe, who, despite being a top surgeon, she still can’t read or write because she’s never been to school for a single day in her life.

She can’t speak English, which made the book a little tricky. But she’s just an amazing person, incredibly humble and incredibly giving. And it’s been a real, real high point in my life to have worked with them.

Jimmy  44:50

Right. The reason I asked if it was inspiring is because and working on your website had discovered that everything you’ve ever written was inspiring.

Sue  44:59

Right, I must use that word more sparingly in future then.

Jimmy  45:03

But it’s funny because when you think about it, all the material that’s gone into the website has come from stuff that was originally intended to promote a book or a program. So you’re not going to say this is a really depressing book …

Sue  45:17

This is a hell of a downer … (laughs).

Jimmy  45:21

Well, congratulations on the new book coming out. I know how much hard work you put into it. And it is the jewel in the crown of your new website. Suewilliams.com.au. Folks, thank you for listening. And we will both talk to you again next week. Bye.



One Reply to “Podcast 95: pet ban block, websites and a new book”

  1. Jimmy-T says:

    If you want to start a discussion or ask a question about this, log into the Flat Chat Forum (using the link above). More people will read it there and you can more easily keep track of responses.

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