The cracked concrete slab in Sydney Olympic Park's Opal Tower – which triggered the second evacuation of residents in four days on Thursday – exposes a lack of protections for apartment buyers that must be resolved if rapidly urbanising Australia is going to become a high-rise nation.
But for all the inconvenience, uncertainty and lost value for owners – not to mention tenants – of the 392 apartments in the tower completed only months earlier, they are still in a better position than most owners of problematic off-the-plan apartments with problems, who enjoy less consumer protection than the buyer of a fridge, said Stephen Goddard, a solicitor and the chairman of lobby group Owners Corporation Network of Australia.
"Public confidence in strata living has been severely undermined," Mr Goddard told AFR Weekend. "It's time for governments to adopt a policy ensuring that people who buy off the plan have better consumer protection than they have when they buy a fridge. That's not what's happening now."