Podcast: Where should strata be in government?

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Elsewhere in this post

This week on the pod we ask the question, if Strata doesn’t belong in Fair Trading, then where should it go?

As Jimmy explains in this column (which also appeared as an op-ed in the Sydney Morning Herald) our brand-new Fair Trading Minister Eleni Petinos has also been given Small Business on which to attach her training wheels.

So now strata isn’t just a part of a huge, rambling and largely unconnected and complex ministry, that department itself is parked in a side street off another ministry, which has been given precedence (if the new minister’s title is anything to go by).

That the case for taking strata out of Fair Trading is stronger than ever is inarguable. But if the NSW government did remove it, where should it go?


LISTEN HERE


Also in the pod, we look at the failure of the short-term letting code of conduct at its first test with riot police called to a 100-hoon party, exacerbated by Airbnb’s alleged refusal to provide the names of the perpetrators to police due to its “privacy” policy.

Then we check out why so many strata blocks are rushing to install electric vehicle charging when there are so few electric vehicles.

Finally we look at how we have come together to help each other as omicron runs rampant though our communities.

That’s all in this week’s Flat Chat Wrap.

If you enjoyed listening to this podcast (or reading the transcript), please share it with your friends using the social media buttons on this page.

TRANSCRIPT IN FULL

Jimmy  00:00

Happy New Year!

Sue  00:01

And Happy New Year to you too, Jimmy!

Jimmy  00:03

And Happy New Year if you’re listening to us somewhere in Australia, or, in other places. You could listen to us all over the world. I think we’ve got a couple of listeners in America.

Sue  00:13

Really?

Jimmy  00:14

Yeah. I think they are in condo boards and they’ve decided that however bad it gets there, “listen to what’s going on in Australia!” I don’t know!

Sue  00:24

That’s not very reassuring, is it?

Jimmy  00:26

No… Today, we’re going to talk about where strata should be, because I don’t think either of us think it should be in Fair Trading.

Sue  00:34

In New South Wales Government?

Jimmy  00:36

Yes, it  should be somewhere else. It’s not quite big enough to have its own department, but it’s way too big to be in with others. We’ll talk about that later. We’ll talk about the latest Airbnb scandals, with riot police called to Airbnb parties, and you’re going to talk about the electrification of buildings that are supplying power to EV-vehicles…

Sue  01:04

That’s right, yep.

Jimmy  01:05

In apartment blocks, which is a thing…

Sue  01:07

That’s becoming a bigger and bigger issue for a lot of people.

Jimmy  01:09

It is, and people kind of want it, but they’re not sure if they need it, or…

Sue  01:15

How to go about it.

Jimmy  01:16

Or, what level of it, to have. And, as a note, this week, we are recording in mono.

Sue  01:23

Really? That seems a bit of a backwards step, doesn’t it?

Jimmy  01:26

Not according to The Beatles! The files take up less space and in any case, what happens is we record in stereo, and then the software reduces it to mono, anyway.

Sue  01:39

Oh, okay. So maybe, listeners wouldn’t hear any difference.

Jimmy  01:43

Well, they might not hear any difference, but they might. If they do hear any difference, maybe they’ll tell us.

Sue  01:48

Yes, let us know.

Jimmy  01:49

All right. I am Jimmy Thomson, and I write the Flat Chat column for the Australian Financial Review.

Sue  01:55

And I’m Sue Williams. I write about property for Domain.

Jimmy  01:57

And this is the very first Flat Chat Wrap of 2022.

[MUSIC]

Sue  02:17

Jimmy, you wrote a column about this, didn’t you, for the Sydney Morning Herald; about where strata should be, in terms of New South Wales Government departments?

Jimmy  02:25

I did. We’ve got a new Minister; ‘Eleni Petinos Attracts Attention,’ (as the Sydney Morning Herald lawyers changed it to, in my op-ed piece, last week). But that’s not the point, and we shouldn’t prejudge her. She has never been a Minister before and maybe, she’ll be brilliant.

Sue  02:46

Oh, let’s hope so.

Jimmy  02:47

But I have my doubts, simply because she’s also been given Small Business.

Sue  02:54

So Fair Trading and Small Business?

Jimmy  02:55

And in her listing, she is the Minister of Small Business and Fair Trading. It’s not even alphabetical order. It’s like “I’m the Minister of Small Business and also, Fair Trading.” 

Sue  03:12

That doesn’t bode well, does it?

Jimmy  03:14

It doesn’t particularly, but it means we’ll be keeping a close eye on her and trying to be as helpful as possible. I think that’s the way forward. But, it does raise the recurring question of what the hell is strata doing in Fair Trading, anyway?

Sue  03:31

Yep. It seems quite ridiculous in lots of ways, because our new Planning Minister now has Planning and Homes, doesn’t he?

Jimmy  03:41

Yes, it used to be Housing.

Sue  03:43

Yes, but now it’s Homes, so that doesn’t say only terrace homes, or only freestanding homes, or only…

Jimmy  03:51

Well, Housing has always been Housing Commission, in terms of the government, really. And, of course, most of the Housing Commission people these days, live in apartments, so they’re not in housing, per se; they’re in apartments. So, changing it to Homes, it kind of makes it sound a bit touchy-feely.

Sue  04:12

Yes, but it does make it more inclusive, though, doesn’t it? Because it could mean anything. I mean, it’s really interesting. A few years ago, when people started talking about apartments, they’d talk about homes, versus apartments. You’d think, what are they talking about? They always meant houses, versus apartments, but homes are homes; whatever kind of place you live in, whether it’s a palace, or a tiny studio. It’s a home, to somebody.

Jimmy  04:37

Yes, indeed. So, let’s say that we persuade the Premier, Mr. Perrottet, to remove strata from Fair Trading…Would you put it in Housing, or would you put it in Planning? Well, it’s the same thing now.

Sue  04:53

It’s the same thing, so it doesn’t really matter, does it? It should be there.

Jimmy  04:59

I just remember, a couple of years ago, that there was a big hooha, that the Department of Housing was starting to put their overflow clients into strata rentals. There’s nothing wrong with that, per se, except that people who are in Department of Housing homes; the families are more likely to be a bit under stress, whether it’s financial or social, or, you know, single parents or whatever. That’s just statistically, a fact. They are not particularly cued up to deal with bylaws and the responsibility of being in an apartment block and having to deal with the terms of their lease, for instance, and bylaws for the building. So, there was a lot of complaints about these people. It’s always ‘these people;’ they come in, they make noise, their kids run around, bla bla, bla, bla…They ignore the bylaws. That wasn’t the problem. The problem was that when the Owners Corporation tried to deal with the problems with Housing, they were just told to nick off; we’re not interested.

Sue  06:04

Oh, I remember that now and they didn’t kind of engage in any sort of constructive dialogue to help the situation. They just said “no, you’re all NIMBY’s, and we’re not going to have anything to do with you.”

Jimmy  06:15

Yes, which made the owners, especially owner-occupiers of these apartment blocks, really anti-Housing Commission, quite understandably. It wasn’t the fault of either the owner-occupiers, or of the Housing Commission tenants. It was the Housing Department, basically dumping people into strata, and then saying “we don’t have to follow your rules, because we’re the Housing Commission. We’re the government, so suck it up.” You would get angry at that, I think, but let’s imagine that strata moves into the Department of Homes, where they’re looking at people (whether they’re owner -occupiers or tenants; private tenants, or housing tenants), and going “well, these are basically all part of the same mix.” There are people who need to be looked after, to different extents. Do you think that would work?

Sue  07:11

Absolutely and then there’ll be a lot more cooperation between the different groups, because they just have one interest in common. I think it’s a splendid idea!

Jimmy  07:20

Because then the Housing people (I will continue to call them Housing, just until we get used to this new name); they couldn’t turn around and say “this is not our problem…it’s your problem. You’re a strata scheme; you’ve got your rules.”

Sue  07:34

“You go to the Department of Fair Trading.”

Jimmy  07:36

“Yes, go to Fair Trading and sort it out. Go to NCAT, which is the Attorney General’s remit and sort it out with them; we are not interested.” They wouldn’t be able to do that.

Sue  07:46

No, because the problem is with them, so they would actually have to solve it and sort it out. I think it’s a really good idea.

Jimmy  07:53

Which would be very easy to do, actually. Because they could just say “hey, look, we’re going to put you into this nice block of flats, but before you go in, there are bylaws. You have to follow these rules and if you’re not prepared to follow these rules, like any other tenant, you run the risk of getting booted out.”

Sue  08:11

Yes. “Are you willing to follow those rules, because if you’re not, we’ll find somewhere else for you, but if you are willing to comply, then you can go to this great place…

Jimmy  08:21

And no one will ever know that you’re Housing Commission.

Sue  08:23

Yes, of course. You’d just be a tenant, just like anybody else.

Jimmy  08:26

 I think that would work.

Sue  08:27

 Yes, absolutely.

Jimmy  08:29

So, if you’re listening out there, Mr Perrottet… I know you’re a keen listener to this podcast (haha)! Get it done, mate; the stroke of a pen.They can move their offices later… All you have to do is change the letter heading, and you’re changing it, anyway. You’re changing Better Regulation, back to the Department of Fair Trading. I’m so disappointed… I am so disappointed that they’re doing that. It was a terrific opportunity. I don’t know if anybody ever watches the BBC TV spoof of BBC, called W1A? There’s an opportunity there for our government to create a ‘Department of Better.’

Sue  09:10

Like the show!

Jimmy  09:11

A Ministry of Better. That would be great!

Sue  09:15

It would be a hell of a big Ministry, wouldn’t it?

Jimmy  09:18

Yeah. A Ministry that needs improving. Yeah, ‘take a number, join the queue.’

Sue  09:22

I’m quite glad they’ve gone back to Fair Trading though, really, because that’s the name we always knew it by. ‘Better Regulation;’ what does that mean?

Jimmy  09:30

and Innovation… I used to call it the ‘Department of Long Titles.’ I can’t do that anymore.

Sue  09:38

But fairness and equity is what it’s all about, really.

Jimmy  09:41

And while that is part of strata living, it is not the main focus. The main focus of strata living is having a home and being happy in it. It is not complaints and all the rest of it. We need to be away from the broken toys and dodgy mechanics and bitumen bandits, as they periodically come up. They need to get over that; they need to be in an area which is all about housing. It’s interesting; in Queensland, the Body Corporates Commission is part of the Attorney General’s office. I don’t think necessarily, that would be a good thing for us.

Sue  10:19

It makes it feel more important though, doesn’t it?

Jimmy  10:21

Well, certainly more important. It used to be the Department of Tourism and Wine Promotion and Horse Racing.

Sue  10:28

Well, there’s something to be said for that.

Jimmy  10:31

I think they’ve got a horse racing again, for some reason, in Queensland; who knows? Okay, when we come back, we are going to talk about Airbnb. That’s after this.

[MUSIC]

Jimmy

I think it was December the 1st, that the new Airbnb regulations came in. The Register and the Code of Conduct…

Sue  10:59

 The much-vaunted…

Jimmy  11:00

 Much-vaunted; the thing that’s going to save us, from ourselves.

Sue  11:03

Yes, so we would expect that to guarantee good behaviour, from people renting Airbnb places.

Jimmy  11:08

And, we never thought that for a minute, did we?

Sue  11:12

It is quite extraordinary, how much has gone wrong, just in a very short period of time?

Jimmy  11:18

I mean, obviously, they’ve picked out the most spectacular cases, which involve a party of 100 people, where riot police had to attend…

Sue  11:26

 A small apartment, yep.

Jimmy  11:28

And the place got smashed. I mean, the people went in there with the intention of smashing up the apartment.

Sue  11:35

With holes in the walls and furniture destroyed.

Jimmy  11:38

And then there was the other one, where there was blood on the walls, and somebody had been stabbed in the back.

Sue  11:43

Oh, my God!

Jimmy  11:45

This is the thing; we kind of predicted this would happen, because here’s the thing… Airbnb’s response was “we’re not going to allow any rentals over the holiday period, to anyone who doesn’t have a positive review.” Right!

Sue  11:59

Any renter?

Jimmy  12:01

Any renter. Okay, that’s kind of something. But, when the police said to them “there have been these incidents; there’s been criminal damage caused, there’s been a stabbing… The police have had to be called; the police have been abused and whatnot. Can you give us the name of the person who rented the apartment?” They’ve said “no, under our privacy laws, we are not prepared to give you that information.”

Sue  12:29

That’s ridiculous! What if somebody had been murdered there, would they still be saying “no, no, it’s a private matter?”

Jimmy  12:34

I think probably not, but it doesn’t have to be that extreme. If you were out in a bar with a friend, and that person got into a fight; your friend got into a fight and somebody got really badly hurt and the police came to you and said “apparently, you’re a friend of this guy. You were seen coming in here with this person… Can you give us a name and address,” and you said “no, I’m sorry. That’s private information…” You’d be in a jail. You would be hindering the course of an investigation.

Sue  13:04

That’s right. So what have the police done about this?

Jimmy  13:08

I’m hoping they’re rounding up all the Airbnb PR’s and managers and they’re all sitting in a holding cell at some point at the moment, going “oh, this is the worst Airbnb I’ve ever been in.” But I don’t know what they’re doing, and what they can do. I tell you what they should do; they should find a person who is responsible (somebody in Australia), who knows who that person was, who works for Airbnb, and say “well, here’s your choice. Tell us who the person was who rented the flat, or you’re heading for a night in the cells,” which is what would happen to you and I, in similar circumstances. But you know, for so long, Airbnb has kind of been immune. They came out here and they said “oh, it’s all about sharing your apartment; it’s all about sharing your home.” Yeah, if you define sharing as renting it to complete strangers for short-term lets, then I suppose it is sharing. But, they’ve always worked on a principle that “we’re going to break the law, the planning laws, and the reason we’re going to do that, is because you cannot stop us and also, we’re going to encourage tourists to come to your country and put a lot of money into your economy (which is true), but at the same time, we’re going to push up rents, and we’re not going to be responsible for anything that any of our tenants or hosts do.”

Sue  14:31

You kind of think the publicity over these two incidents would really deter a lot of people from wanting to rent their homes out on Airbnb, although as we both know, a huge number of Airbnb rentals are actually done on a commercial basis. You know, they’re not people’s homes at all; they’re not sharing their homes. They’ve just bought a property…

Jimmy  14:50

Or rented…

Sue  14:51

Yes, or rented it, with the pure intention of renting out again, to make a bit more money. You wonder if, with so much damage being done, and people being hurt, that may stop? The realisation that it’s not being properly regulated; that might kind of turn a few people off Airbnb, mightn’t it?

Jimmy  15:09

You’d be worried. Obviously, people have gone “oh, we can make a lot of money, just renting this out for two nights at the weekend.” Maybe, it’s those people who are going “we are heading out to our girlfriend, boyfriend, parents place for the weekend; let’s put the flat on Airbnb for those two nights.” It could be that. It doesn’t have to be commercial. They suddenly find that they can make a lot of money, but somebody has gone to their  100 mates and said  “it’s gonna cost us $500 a night for this… Have you got five bucks?” Five bucks gets you into the party. The other thing is that (this is a ridiculous thing); the person who’s done this, would have to do it twice in a two-year period, before they got banned by Airbnb. I’m sure they have another rule for gross misconduct, but any breach of the Code of Conduct, the government can say “you’ve got to ban this person.” But, if you’ve got six mates and you’re all up to the same nonsense, you just take turns; you just take turns and rent an apartment and wreck it.

Sue  16:17

You know, if Airbnb was better regulated, there’d be much more of an argument in its favour. If an apartment building had a few apartments, which were being regularly let out on Airbnb and it wasn’t against their bylaws… If those Owners Corporations; if there was any hint of trouble, they were able to phone somebody at Airbnb and say “look, this is an issue. Can you check this out? We’re having real problems with this person,” that would be great. But the fact is, it’s an organisation; it’s really hard to get hold of a person. Even as a journalist, it’s really quite hard to get hold of a PR, and so it’s one of those things where nobody can get hold of Airbnb to complain, before a problem really kicks off and then after a problem really kicks off, we now find that it’s really impossible to get the people punished, or the people banned outright.

Jimmy  17:10

Just to find out who it is that did this and all behind this nonsense of privacy. So, that’s another thing that needs to be fixed this year. We (allegedly), have the most restrictive Airbnb rules in the country, in New South Wales, and quite obviously, they don’t work and if people want to take advantage of them, they will. I mean, I’ve seen pictures of people who rent Airbnb’s and they have this thing of peeing somewhere in the cupboards, and things like that, so that the next tenants, or the owners come back and spend days going, “what’s that awful smell?”

Sue  17:46

I’ve never heard of that!

Jimmy  17:48

I’ve seen photographs of it.

Sue  17:50

Oh my gosh, that’s like a dare thing, really?

Jimmy  17:52

I don’t know. It’s just a stupid, nasty, vandalistic… It’s the same level of idiocy as tagging walls with some ugly scribble.

Sue  18:02

So the next Airbnb renters will maybe notice a bit of a smell, but the next ones would recognise more of a smell and it would get worse and worse and then it would be really hard for the owners to work out who it was. Especially as Airbnb probably won’t tell them anyway.

Jimmy  18:17

Well, you know, they’ll say “who was it here for the last six people and have you had any complaints about them from other….” “No, sorry, it’s privacy; we can’t tell you.”

Sue  18:25

God, people can be awful, can’t they?

Jimmy  18:27

They can and the enablers are just as bad. When we come back, we’re going to talk about electric vehicle charging. That’s after this.

[MUSIC]

Jimmy

Sue, you did a big article on electric vehicle charging. I applaud any apartment block that is dealing with it, although, there are many ways of dealing with it, or not dealing with it. What did you come across?

Sue  18:59

Well, an awful lot of strata buildings are now thinking about how to instal electric vehicle charging stations throughout their buildings. I think sometimes, it’s a result of people in the buildings who are wanting to get electric vehicles or are saying that they’re about to get them. A couple have already got them. There’s not very many of them around. So, they’re kind of putting pressure on strata committees to do something, but also, those buildings are thinking “well, we still want to be able to attract good tenants. We want to attract owners, we want to track good prices when our apartments come up for sale.” More and more people now are asking, whether there are those chargers in their buildings. They really want to future-proof those buildings. There was one building in Pyrmont in Sydney and they reported that somebody wanted to buy one of their penthouses, and was offering an awful lot of money, and then discovered that they didn’t have any electric vehicle charging facilities, and were not planning to implement any, so they immediately pulled out. That was the most important thing for them. It’s interesting; I mean, it used to be the size of kitchens or the facilities a building offered, but now, more and more, it’s EV charging, which is coming to the fore.

Jimmy  20:10

I think it’s one of these things, like gyms in buildings. As our chair once noted, the number of people in our building who actually use the gym is quite small (relatively speaking, the percentage), but the number of people who come to buy and rent, who’d look at the gym and go “ooh, nice gym…” That flavours their attitude to purchasing or renting in the building. I think electric vehicle charging is a bit like that; that people will go “you know, I wouldn’t mind..”

Sue  20:41

I mean, we’re all going to be driving electric vehicles in the very near future, really.

Jimmy  20:48

If Scomo has his way, we’ll be driving coal-driven vehicles. We’ll have steam cars!

Sue  20:55

All new buildings now, they’re all being designed with electric vehicle charging stations. There’s one building in Melbourne I discovered; in St Kilda… When that building is finished next year, 2023, they not only will have electric vehicle charging stations, but they also will have lifts to bring (I mean, this is a very special building),  people’s cars up to their level. They’re going to have a garage at the same level as their apartment, which is glass-walled, so they can sit in their lounge room and admire their Porsche. I mean, you’ve obviously got to have a good car,  because you wouldn’t want to look at a dirty Mini, or something.

Jimmy  21:34

Or a Toyota Corolla, or, a clapped-out Lada. Hey, look, you like my Lada?

Sue  21:46

I mean, they’re having these car lifts up to the 90th floor.

Jimmy  21:49

They’ve had them in New York for a couple of years.

Sue  21:51

It seems bizarre, doesn’t it really?

Jimmy  21:53

I don’t know. I think the boy-racer mentality; you know, if you’ve got the latest Lamborghini (which is a beautiful car), or the the latest Ferrari, the latest Porsche, the latest Aston Martin… Am I going to leave a quarter of a million dollars worth of car, sitting in a garage, where people can come up and look at it and poke it and maybe bump into it with their stupid, less expensive cars, or am I going to have it on display, so I can just look at it and go “haven’t I done well?”

Sue  22:27

And then go out and get an Uber or something, just because…

Jimmy  22:30

You’re too scared to drive it.

Sue  22:33

So I think a lot of these new buildings are actually introducing EV charging stations, even though there aren’t that many models out yet, which are electric models, but there will be more coming.

Jimmy  22:45

So, we’ve got three levels of electric charging, haven’t we? We’ve got the overnight charging, just using a three-pin plug, that you stick in the wall. We’ve got the parking space specific rapid-charger, which requires three-phase electricity…

Sue  23:03

And can charge a car very, very quickly.

Jimmy  23:06

Is it 90 minutes or less, for a full charge? And, they don’t have to be charged fully, that’s the thing. It’s not like you’ve got to wait until the whole thing is charged up, because the new batteries actually like a little bit of intermittent random charging; it keeps them alive. And then, there’s the charging station.

Sue  23:26

Where it might be a visitor parking space, which has been repurposed, so you go and drive in there, put your plug in and then drive out when you’re finished.

Jimmy  23:35

I think ‘annexed,’ is the word I would use. If you have a charging station at a visitor parking space, it’s no longer a visitor parking space, because you’re going to tell visitors not to park there, because somebody might need it for charging. But, it’s going to be a common property area. There’s going to be something on the wall. You’d probably use a code number or your swipe key, that you use in the lifts and to get into the building, so it  identifies who was the last person to charge their car and how much electricity they used and so, they can be charged financially, for the cost of that.

Sue  24:12

Yes, there’s different ways. Some, they have apps, where you just use your own credit card. Just like if you’re getting out petrol or something; you use your own credit card. Others, it looks at your key pin and it just comes out on your strata levies, or you get a bill monthly, that kind of thing.

Jimmy  24:30

We have a strata guru on the forum, who goes by the name of Sir Humphrey and he lives in Canberra, and he converted his own car to electricity, years and years ago, and he points out that we don’t use our cars at night a lot. There’s a point where your car will be sitting in your garage parking space for six to eight hours, which is more than enough for most cars to get fully charged, using a slower, domestic electric supply. Why wouldn’t that work?

Sue  25:02

Well, lots of buildings don’t have enough in their infrastructure to allow too many people to charge their electric cars overnight.

Jimmy  25:14

The thing about overnight charging is it’s off-peak, because not very many people are using it and we must be a long way off the critical mass of too many people trying to charge the cars at the same time?

Sue  25:24

Well, I don’t know. They had a survey in Sydney and they found that 48% of respondents plan to have an EV within the next five years. That’s a lot of people.

Jimmy  25:35

I noticed that when your article was in the paper, there were people…It actually stirred up quite a lot of controversy. Not that anybody was arguing with what you were saying, but people were talking about houses and how we can expect to be tripping over cables. Houses that don’t have parking, like terrace houses, just around the corner from us; rows of terrace houses, where they just park on the street and there’s just enough parking for everybody. They said “you’ll be tripping over cables as they come out of their house, and they plug their electrical supply into their cars.”  I doubt if that will happen. Around this area, they’re more likely to get their electrical cables stolen. People are going to have to rethink. I do think that the sales and rental potential of saying “hey, we’ve got rapid EV charging in our building;” I think that consumer pressure will change government policy. We’re just not quite at that tipping point, yet, but people will go “hang on, I can get something that’s environmentally clean, and cheap and reliable and I don’t have to queue up at petrol stations, every time there’s a war in the Middle East. I think I might get an electric car.” The government will have to respond to that.

Sue  26:56

Because they certainly haven’t been leading the way yet.

Jimmy  26:58

They’re leading the way in the other direction. It’s only two or three years ago, we had Michaelia Cash saying to these workers in a factory, “they’re coming for your Utes! They’re gonna stop you having Utes,” and General Motors had to say to her “actually, we’ve got an electric unit and it’s really quite effective and economical.” But you know, it’s these fear campaigns. Well, our governments are just…

Sue  27:26

Of the ignorant, really, because it’s not like she’s suffered. She’s had quite a stellar rise really, hasn’t she?

Jimmy  27:32

That’s only because the people ahead of her in the queue, keep doing stupid things and having to resign. There’s no way that she would be Attorney-General in a government where there was a reasonable option of other people, to take the job.

Sue  27:50

You’re quite right.

Jimmy  27:51

I mean, people who hide behind travelling whiteboards don’t have a very highly developed sense of personal responsibility, in my book.

Sue  27:59

But yes, there will be more and more pressure on the Federal government. I mean, the Strata Community Association Australasia is now lobbying the Federal government to ask them for more money, to help apartment buildings retrofit their buildings to instal more chargers. So yeah, watch this space, I suppose.

Jimmy  28:20

It’s going to be one of these contentious issues, where one bunch of people will be saying “we really need it,” one bunch of people are saying “we really don’t need it” and another bunch of people will be saying “this is a system by which Bill Gates will be able to activate all the nanobots in your bloodstream, from the vaccines.” There’s a conspiracy theory; run with that, folks!

Sue  28:45

When you say there’ll be some people saying “yes, do it,” and some people saying no… They’ve done these surveys; 78% of people in strata in Sydney were in favour of installing charging. 78%, that’s a lot! I mean, that’s why these buildings are actually installing them, not that they do have many people with electric vehicles…

Jimmy  29:05

Well, they can’t, because there aren’t that many electrical vehicles.

Sue  29:09

People are really keen… They want to consider buying an electric vehicle next and they want the comfort of knowing that they’re going to be able to run it well.

Jimmy  29:19

This one bloke in our building; I’ve never been able to work out what it is that he’s charging, but he always has a cable extension plugged into the sockets that they use for the cleaning equipment (for years), and he must be looking at all this infrastructure going in and thinking “it’s only a matter of time before somebody goes ‘where does this plug go to? Where does this cable go to?'”

Sue  29:45

And why isn’t this person paying for any of the electricity they’re using?

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Jimmy  29:55

There’s one other thing, before we go, and you brought this up. It’s connected with the pandemic.

Sue  30:03

This year is going to be the last year of the pandemic, apparently.

Jimmy  30:05

It’s going to just become an infection, apparently, which as they say, is a good thing. But, today in Sydney, they announced 22,000 new cases.

Sue  30:15

Is that Sydney, or New South Wales?

Jimmy  30:17

That’s New South Wales, so it could actually be Newcastle. But anyway, in New South Wales, 22,000 new infections…One of the things that hasn’t really changed is, if you’re infected, you have to go into isolation for seven days. Well, that’s changed. What was your thought about that, Sue?

Sue  30:43

Well, lots of these people are in strata buildings. I mean, I know a number of strata buildings around us (and even ours), where we’ve got a number of cases now, because it’s becoming so prevalent. I was just going to say, you know, if you find out that somebody has it on your level, or in your building, it’d be nice to give them a ring and say “look, is there anything we can do to help you? Can we bring you a coffee? Can we help organise your shopping?” You know, give people a helping hand.

Jimmy  31:11

Based on the idea that really, in an apartment building, a lot of people don’t actually know each other’s phone numbers and things like that; it’s the old note under the door, isn’t it? “If you would like us to deliver you a cup of coffee or a newspaper, here’s our number. Send us a text message.”

Sue  31:28

Yes, because it’s those little gestures that make a really neighbourly building, I think. I remember when we were in isolation, right at the very beginning of COVID, for two weeks and some friends brought round a big basket of biscuits and cheese. I mean, I couldn’t have been happier. It was like I had won the lottery for a million dollars, or something. It was just amazing. It really breaks up the monotony of being in isolation…

Jimmy  31:53

Sitting in a corner, chomping biscuits and cheese.

Sue  31:56

Apart from the 10 kilos I’ve put on. I just think people should try and reach out if they can.

Jimmy  32:03

Because you’ve got to know; somebody’s got to tell you. Different apartment blocks have different policies. In some apartment blocks, they have, I think, a very sensible policy of saying “you’ve got somebody on your floor, so these signs in the lift that you’ve been ignoring, saying that you’ve got to mask up; you’d better start paying attention to them.” They don’t say that, but it’s implied. They’re not telling you who the people are, but if you’ve got four people on your floor, and you know that somebody in your floor is self-isolating, put a note. ‘Are you the person who’s self-isolating? Would you like me to get you a coffee?’ It’s just four scribbled notes. That’s what we’re supposed to be about; we’re supposed to be about looking after each other. We keep telling people that that’s one of the good reasons for being in strata and now’s a chance to prove it.

Sue  32:55

Absolutely!

Jimmy  32:57

Well, Happy New Year to all of you and to you again, Sue and maybe this year, we’ll see things get better all round, including strata being taken out of Fair Trading. Maybe, self -isolate strata? Thanks for listening. I’ll talk to you again soon. Bye.

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Jimmy

Thanks for listening to the Flat Chat Wrap podcast. You’ll find links to the stories and other references on our website flatchat.com.au And if you haven’t already done so, you can subscribe to this podcast completely free on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your favourite pod catcher. Just search for Flat Chat Wrap with a W, click on subscribe and you’ll get this podcast every week without even trying. Thanks again. Talk to you again next week.

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