Rabu, 29 September 2010

What not to wear

Here at the Brown Couch, especially during such an auspicious time as Social Housing Month, we like to maintain a quality of discourse somewhat above that of the 'Gossip Girl'-style tittering about fashionable 'celebs' that infests so much of cyberspace.

But when one of our spies at the Tribunal whispered this report to us, we just had to dish, dish, DISH!

Who is the dapper-dressing officer from Housing NSW who attended the Tribunal recently wearing a three-piece, pin-striped, lilac suit, complete with fob-chain and matching hat?*

Debate rages between the Brown Couch's style mavens as to precisely what look this brave soul is attempting to rock. Is he going for 'preppy', after Gossip Girl's own trust-fund bad-boy Chuck Bass?

Or is it the 'Wildean dandy' look?

Or zoot-suited Cab Calloway's 'high-steppin' pimp' look?

Or 'insane criminal genius'?

We await further sightings with bated breath.

In the meantime, this does raise a slightly more serious question: what to wear to the Tribunal?

This is a question that has vexed all sides: tenants, tenant advocates, landlords and landlords' representatives. Your correspondent used to appear regularly in the Tribunal as a tenant advocate and took care to wear a suit and tie (a confession: I even had a 'conciliation tie', in calming tones of blue, green and pink, and a 'hearing tie' of striking gold and red bars); however, for one of my colleagues (a very able advocate on the north coast), getting dressed up for the Tribunal meant putting on a pair of shoes.

I am aware of one instance of the Tribunal rebuking a Housing NSW officer for appearing without a tie; the officer retorted that he considered a tie to be an occupational health and safety hazard – a tenant might strangle him with it, the officer said. Perhaps a self-fulfilling prophesy. I also know of a tenant who proposed to wear to the Tribunal her Sydney Olympics volunteer uniform. For her, the volunteer uniform was a stronger statement of civic engagement than the traditional business suit, and so was appropriate attire as she engaged with the processes of law and justice as represented by the Tribunal.

The Tribunal's own enabling legislation provides that the proceedings before the Tribunal are to be 'determined in an informal, expeditious and inexpensive manner' (Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal Act 2001 (NSW), s 3(c)). This is not really meant as a style tip, but it does indicate that expensive, formal attire is not necessary. Our advice is: neat and tidy.

* This is a rhetorical question. We know full well the identity of the officer and it will not be disclosed here.