On Sunday, February 10, NSW Better Regulation Minister Matt Kean announced a plan for a tightening of building regulations, clearly in a response to the Opal Tower and cladding scandals.
Confidence in the building industry is crumbling – as is electoral support for the NSW Liberal Coalition. It would be reasonable to assume that these proposed changes in the law – which would have to be ratified in parliament – are an effort to shore up both.
The following is Mr Kean’s press release (handed a day earlier to News Limited Newspapers so they could run it as front-page news), unedited and without further comment.
New home owners in NSW will be better protected under the Liberals & Nationals Government after it announced strong plans to improve the building and construction industry.
Minister for Better Regulation Matt Kean said the plan, which includes appointing a Building Commissioner, has been months in the making, after the Building Ministers’ Forum (BMF) commissioned an independent report into the industry in August 2017.
“Professor Peter Shergold AC and Bronwyn Weir spent six months examining building regulatory systems around Australia and delivered a thorough and insightful report to the BMF,” Mr Kean said.
“They found that there are national problems in the construction industry. We’ve taken their findings on board and we’re taking strong action to further protect NSW homeowners.”
In response to the Shergold Weir Report, the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government will support the majority of recommendations, including requiring that:
- building designers, including engineers, declare that building plans specify a building that will comply with the Building Code of Australia;
- builders declare that buildings have been built according to their plans; and
- requiring building designers and builders to be registered.
In addition, the NSW Government will appoint a Building Commissioner to act as the consolidated building regulator in NSW, including with responsibility for licensing and auditing practitioners.
The plan will also clarify the law to ensure there is an industry-wide duty of care to homeowners and owners corporations so that they have the right to compensation where a building practitioner has been negligent.
“We’re making tough new laws to ensure buildings meet Australian standards, and to guarantee that people who build and design buildings have the proper qualifications to do so,” Mr Kean said.
“This plan will ensure those who control the risks – building practitioners – are held responsible for their work. People deserve to feel safe in their homes and have confidence that they are buying a quality building.
“I’m committed to getting these reforms right. I’ll be continuing my consultations with both industry and community stakeholders to make sure we get the best results for home owners.”
The response to the Shergold Weir report is another example of the strong action being taken by the Liberals & Nationals Government to improve building and planning regulation, protecting NSW home owners.
Certifier laws were recently strengthened by enacting the Building and Development Certifiers Act 2018, a modern planning system was created under theEnvironmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 and unsafe building products banned with the Building Products (Safety) Act 2017.