Media Release - Canberra Deserves Best Practice Building Reforms

Posted 21 September 2020

Media Release - Canberra Deserves Best Practice Building Reforms

Master Builders ACT has today released its building quality policy, calling on all candidates to deliver Canberra a best practice building regulatory system which holds all building practitioners to account, supports good quality operators, and makes industry training the centrepiece of improving building standards.

Master Builders ACT CEO Michael Hopkins said, “Canberrans deserve a best practice building regulatory system.”

“In a recent MBA survey of the ACT community on building quality, 55% reported that they are dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the ACT Government reform process over the past 5 years. Only 17% were satisfied with the reform process,” he said.

Mr Hopkins said, “The survey confirmed that building quality is a key election issue, with 97% saying building quality is very important or extremely important to them, and two-thirds of respondents said the policies of candidates would influence how they vote in the October election.”

“89% of respondents said they support the establishment of an ACT Building Commission to coordinate, guide and prioritise ACT building reforms and enforcement,” he said.

Mr Hopkins said, “After more than a decade of campaigning for better building quality by the MBA, it is disappointing that regulators have failed to act on building industry expert recommendations to improve the building regulatory system, and unscrupulous operators continue to be licensed by the ACT Government.”

“In 2018 all State and Territory Building Ministers agreed to implement the 24 recommendations of the expert Shergold Weir Building Confidence Report. Two years later progress in the ACT has been slow,” he said.

Mr Hopkins said, “The progress on building reforms in the New South Wales provides a stark contrast with progress in the ACT.”

“The NSW Government has appointed a Building Commissioner who is empowered to lead the NSW reform process. The NSW Commissioner has set about restoring confidence in the sector by holding practitioners to account, supporting good quality operators, implementing licensing reforms and dealing with the problem of illegal phoenixing. All of this has occurred with a high level of consultation and engagement with the building industry,” he said.

Mr Hopkins said, “While the impacts of poor building quality on the community are well documented, the actions of a few unscrupulous operators have a significant impact on the majority of good quality local builders, subcontractors and building professionals.”

“Unless everyone plays by the rules, gets paid on time and acts fairly, the many good quality local businesses cannot fairly compete with those few operators willing to cut corners on quality, safety and commercial conduct,” he said.

Mr Hopkins said, “The MBA also wants industry training to be recognised as an important part of the building quality solution.”

“Apprentices in the ACT receive first class training, however once qualified the ACT building system doesn’t insist that practitioners maintain and improve their knowledge over their career,” he said.

Mr Hopkins said, “Many MBA members voluntarily commit to ongoing training for themselves and their staff, however this commitment is not universal.”

“A system of continuing professional development training has successfully been implemented in other jurisdictions and in other industries. It is time a similar system is implemented for the ACT building industry,” he said.

The MBA is calling on the next ACT Government to:

  1. Implement the Building Confidence Report Recommendations
  2. Invest in Industry Training
  3. Ensure Fair and Sensible Commercial Conduct, and
  4. Consistently Enforce the Law Across the Building Supply Chain

Mr Hopkins said, “The MBA’s building quality policy seeks to elevate the ACT building and construction industry to the best in Australia, with regulations that are consistently enforced.”

“The need to develop and implement these reforms in partnership with the local industry cannot be understated. The real knowledge of how to improve design and building quality rests with local practitioners, and this knowledge should be tapped into so that the ACT reforms are nation-leading,” he said.

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