In this article I delve into the issue of a motion with alternatives, as well as ruling these kinds of motions out of order.
Firstly, let’s clarify some concepts.
Section 72 of the Body Corporate and Community Management (Standard Module) Regulation 2008 (the Standard Module) provides for motions with alternatives. I will refer throughout to the Standard Module, please refer to the relevant sections of other Regulation Modules if required.
A motion with alternatives must be put on the agenda for a general meeting by the committee when two or more motions proposing alternative ways of dealing with the same issue are submitted as motions for consideration at a general meeting of the body corporate. A motion with alternatives is also put on the agenda if the person proposing the motion provides two quotes for consideration.
When it comes to voting at the general meeting, a voter may vote either:
- for the motion, by voting for the motion and for one of the alternatives listed under the motion; or
- against the motion.
Importantly, section 72(5) of the Standard Module provides that if more than one motion about the same issue is listed on the agenda, or stated in a voting paper for the meeting, all motions about the issue are void.
So then to section 81 of the Standard Module, which provides for the person chairing a general meeting ruling motions out of order. The section provides the chair must rule the motion out of order if the motion, if carried, would:
- conflict with the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997, this regulation or the by-laws, or a motion already voted on at the meeting; or
- be unlawful or unenforceable for another reason; or
- except for a procedural motion for the conduct of the meeting, or a motion to correct minutes—the substance of the motion was not included in the agenda for the meeting.
I have underlined “must” above to emphasise that it is a mandatory requirement to rule the motion out of order.
One of the more common issues my Office hears about in relation to motions with alternatives, is that in ruling something ‘out of order’, a chairperson may rule the alternatives out of order, rather than the motion.
This is not correct. If we refer to section 81 above, we see that the wording is in relation to the motion. The provision does not refer to alternatives.
An adjudicator’s order which may shed some further light on this issue is Mornington Quays  QBCCMCmr 503 (14 December 2009).
In general, this issue highlights some other, broader issues, including:
- the need for a chairperson to be clear about their responsibilities in chairing a general meeting—remember, a general meeting provides an opportunity for all owners to cast their vote on a matter, so there is a reasonable amount of importance attached to how a general meeting is chaired
- the need for the committee to also be clear on its responsibilities, particularly responsibilities in relation to accepting and correctly listing motions put forward by owners, as well as motions the committee puts forward
- equally, the need for a lot owner to be clear with any motion they submit for a general meeting – owners should take the time to consider what it is they are seeking and whether their motion adequately reflects that outcome.
One way in which some of these issues might be addressed is through education and training. This is, of course, one of the key roles of my Office and in this regard, we provide an online training course for committee members. This course is equally useful for non-committee members in establishing an understanding of crucial terms and concepts.
The online training is available at https://www.qld.gov.au/law/housing-and-neighbours/body-corporate/legislation-and-bccm/services/training.
To search and view adjudicators’ orders, visit www.austlii.edu.au.
To access legislation, visit www.legislation.qld.gov.au.
For further, general body corporate information please contact my Office on 1800 060 119 or visit our website www.qld.gov.au/bodycorporate.