Key bushfire standard open for all Australians to access





  • Standards Australia partners with the Australian Commonwealth government to jointly fund access for all Australians to AS 3959:2018 Construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas until 30 June 2021
  • Standards Australia joins the wider Australian communities in their efforts to rebuild after devastating bushfires
  • AS 3959:2018 will be available soon at no direct cost to users through Standards Australia’s distributors.

Today, Adrian O’Connell, Standards Australia’s Chief Executive Officer and Karen Andrews MP, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology announced a joint funding agreement for access to AS 3959:2018, Construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas, for all Australians.

“This is a difficult time for many individuals and communities. When the scale of the disaster became apparent, I wanted to make sure that Standards Australia was directly contributing to the broader Australian response,” said CEO of Standards Australia, Adrian O’Connell.

By funding access to this standard together with the Commonwealth Government, Standards Australia hopes that as communities rebuild after these most recent bushfires, they do so with access to Australia’s construction standard that deals with bushfire prone areas.

“I am very proud that we have been able to announce this today,” said Mr O’Connell.

The announcement comes just months after Standards Australia put in place a new distribution and licensing framework to provide more options for delivering access to Australian Standards. Standards Australia and the Commonwealth, through the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources will be jointly funding the access until 30 June 2021 using the sponsored access pathway outlined in the distribution and licensing framework.

“When we announced our new distribution and licensing framework in November, being able to announce a partnership like this so quickly is a significant achievement for all involved. I would like to thank Minister Andrews and her Department for working with us over the last few weeks to make this happen,” said Mr O’Connell

Standards Australia’s Distribution and Licensing Framework Policy launched last year and has been paramount in the company’s ability to fund and open access to this standard and is an important example of how the new framework can support communities.

“It’s the nature of Standards Australia to support our nation and having control over our content has given us the opportunity to do this,” concluded Mr. O’Connell.

AS 3959:2018, Construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas provides guidance to professionals in the building and construction industry and is primarily concerned with improving the ability of buildings in designated bushfire-prone areas to better withstand bushfires.

Regarding the bushfires more broadly, Mr. O’Connell said it was too early to say what if any work needs to be done with technical standards following the bushfires.

“Everything that we’ve heard so far is telling us that houses built to the standard performed well. We’re currently looking for data about how AS 3959:2018 homes held up and working with relevant committees to support their ongoing work to help in this rebuilding phase.”

AS 3959:2018, Construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas, will soon be available as a PDF to all Australians until 30 June 2021.

Standards Australia is working with its distributors on making the access available. Standards Australia will make a further announcement on access points in the coming weeks.


As we begin another year, I hope that you had a chance to have a bit of a break before the start of no doubt another busy 12 months ahead.

While our thoughts were very much with the numerous families that were and in many cases still are feeling the effects of the recent devastating bushfires, we can only hope that sense will prevail in future state, territory and federal planning to minimise the chances of something of this magnitude happening again. As David Burnell (National President) recently mentioned, many of our AIB members will also have a future part to play in the safety assessment and rebuilding phase that will follow this fire season.

A reminder for members to register their interest and expertise by email on our dedicated address so we can have a short list of skills ready when we are contacted to provide support by the newly established national relief agency.

In 2019, we worked very hard on meeting with government decision makers in pursuit of reform to the industry. This will continue again as we start a new year, with  all Chapters focusing on the AIB Ten Point Plan – a blueprint for some of the big issues facing the industry at the moment.

  1.   Code of Ethics 
  2.   Single Regulatory Agency
  3.   National Construction Code
  4.   Formal Education for Builders
  5.   Licencing of Key Building Professions and Trades
  6.   Registration System for all Builders and Trades
  7.   Building Quality Manager
  8.   Documentation Review
  9.   Building Surveyor Sign Off
  10.   Insurance System   

Our Professional Excellence Awards have opened again and we look forward to a record number of entries and some spectacular events this year where we will acknowledge some of the best of the best. All the details of how to enter are on our new website.

Two AIB members were recently bestowed honours in the Australia Day Honours list (2020).
Firstly, Bob Wildermuth received the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) (General Division) for ‘service to the Building and Construction Industry’ and Robert Torrance from WA became a member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia for ‘significant service to the building and construction industry’. Our sincere congratulations to both recipients – what a way to start the new year!
Finally in this column, if as a valued member you have any thoughts about how we can continue to build the AIB as a respected organisation, I would welcome your thoughts. A Value Proposition that is important to you is important to us.

I look forward to working with you all once again and wish you and your families all the best for 2020.

Have a great weekend ahead everyone.
Greg Hughes


It is back to business this week for some of our members and sadly the Australian holiday period sees much of the country in the grip of a catastrophic fire event. Many members are either directly impacted or involved around the country either fighting fires, or supporting family and friends who need urgent and useful help. I would encourage AIB members to also consider donating to trusted agencies at this time.

The AIB wants to support the people directly impacted, and we would recommend support in the form of donated funds; as experience tells us that money is much more effective and provides more flexibility than the donation of material items or pre-loved goods. Money can be used in the affected areas to purchase goods and services locally to also restart the rebuilding process for businesses within communities.

Trusted Appeal Partners would include:
Salvation Army – Support Australian Disaster Relief – Donate here
Red Cross – Helping Communities Recover – Donate here
State Fire Services – Donations can be made to the state-funded rural fire services. Some states allow pledges to individual brigades and you can search for areas where you want to support.
In a practical sense many of our AIB members will also have a future part to play in the safety assessment and rebuilding phase that will follow this fire season. So I would call on members to register their interest and expertise by email on a dedicated address so we can have a short list of skills ready when we are contacted to provide support.

The schedule for institute activities has commenced with the AIB continuing with our consultation meetings with the NSW Government recommencing next week.

The AIB still has a significant role representing all building professionals; in recent meetings with the NSW Building Commissioner it is clear a large program of reforms is planned specifically address construction needs in NSW. We will shortly need our NSW members to assist in both feedback and representation. An outline of the NSW Building Commissioners work plan can be found here.

Our AIB network is the platform that allows industry leaders and specialists to share and mentor back to the wider industry and government through involvement with the Institute at a Chapter level around the country. If you are still enjoying holidays, please travel safely and I look forward to meeting with you at a future AIB event.

David Burnell FAIB



The Building Ministers’ Forum (BMF) met today in Canberra to discuss progress and agree next steps with the suite of important national building reforms underway. Ministers acknowledged the extensive work done since they last met on 18 July but agreed there is more to be done.

Work to implement the recommendations in the Building Confidence Report and the path forward on professional indemnity insurance were among the many important projects discussed.

Building Confidence Report National Framework

Building Ministers noted the significant progress made by the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB), since the establishment of the Implementation Team to deliver a national approach to implementing the recommendations in the Building Confidence Report.

Key work already undertaken has included:

  • Development of amendments to the 2019 National Construction Code (NCC) including a best practice process for the development ofperformance solutions to strengthen their consistency and quality.
  • Development of a new Continuing Professional Development (CPD) module on the NCC to ensure building practitioners have a better understanding of the requirements within the NCC.
  • Development of a new nationally consistent definition of ‘complex buildings’ with further consultation on the definition and targeted regulatory interventions to continue in early 2020 with a view to inclusion of the definition in the NCC.

Ministers noted the update on the work program for the national approach to implementing the Building Confidence Report of the BCR Implementation Team over the next 18 months.

The next steps include:

  1. Development of a nationally consistent code of conduct for building surveyors with consultation to commence in early 2020.
  2. Development of a detailed national specification for inclusion in a building manual for commercial buildings.
  3. Development of model provisions to set out the roles and responsibilities for documenting, approving and recording performance solutions.
  4. Work on a national data-sharing framework to support the development of a comprehensive national building data portal will also begin next year. This will draw on data from state and territory governments to support education and compliance and enforcement activities.

The Chair reaffirmed the call for industry and states and territories to contribute to the work of the BCR Implementation Team to ensure solutions can be adopted by all jurisdictions in a nationally consistent way.

Coordinated response to Professional Indemnity Insurance

Building Ministers discussed the outcomes of the consultation they commissioned in July and agreed there is no single solution and that a range of responses may be necessary.

Enduring solutions, that reduce the cost of insurance for building industry practitioners and ensure protection for consumers, must be underpinned by the systemic reforms that are being implemented through the national work on the Building Confidence recommendations. States and territories agreed to achieve greater national consistency with regards to licensing requirements for professional indemnity insurance.

Building Ministers agreed to convene a meeting in February 2020 with the Insurance Council of Australia to discuss a suite of measures to reduce the cost and improve the availability of professional indemnity insurance premiums for building industry practitioners.

Ministers called on industry associations to develop Professional Standards Schemes as a matter of priority. A further meeting in February 2020 will be convened with building surveyor and certifier industry associations to discuss their implementation plans for establishing a Professional Standards Scheme and raising standards within the industry. The insurance sector and professionals in the construction industry all have a critical role to play in developing solutions.

Aluminium Composite Panels

Ministers noted the work of the officials and Standards Australia to develop a technical specification for labelling aluminium composite panels. The technical specification is proposed for inclusion in the NCC amendment. An Australian Standard for labelling these products will now be developed drawing on the work done to deliver the technical specification.

Security of Payment

Building Ministers agreed that states and territories would seek to apply model parameters if they are considering the implementation of statutory trusts in their respective security of payment regimes, to provide a nationally consistent approach to the reform.

States and territories would continue to assess the costs and benefits of implementing statutory trusts with respect to local sector conditions and stakeholder feedback.

Digital Twins

Ministers were briefed by CSIRO’s Data61—the Commonwealth’s data and digital sciences arm—on the opportunities to use digital solutions to improve compliance in the building and construction sector, including the ability to track products in the supply chain.

Industry Qualifications

Noting the July 2019 BMF highlighted that some building practitioners did not hold adequate skills required to read and interpret relevant standards and legislation, Building Ministers were briefed by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) on their planned audits of building and construction qualifications.

Fire Safety in Early Childhood Centres

Building Ministers noted the decision of the Australian Building Codes Board to achieve enhanced fire safety measures for early childhood centres by requiring a Performance Solution for centres at upper levels of high-rise buildings. This requirement is to be included in the out-of-cycle NCC amendment.


Firstly this week, I appreciate the positive feedback we have been receiving for our new Professional Excellence Awards website. It would seem that the approach of a one stop site for all Awards information including the ability to purchase event tickets, coupled with a fresh new look has been well received. Thanks again to those who have commented – we certainly have received quite a few hits with again, quite a few people starting their submission for next year!

Recently, I attended the Building Confidence Report (BCR) National Framework Industry Leaders Consultative Group Meeting in Canberra. In essence the meetings are designed to assist with a national framework with regard to the implementation of the Building Confidence Report (Shergold-Weir Report).

Some of the issues that were raised included:

  • The need for compliance and consistency across jurisdictions
  • Workshopping four (4) immediate deliverables from the BCR
  • Discussion around potential regulatory change
  • Discussion around potential changes to the NCC

As a member of this group of industry stakeholders, it is important that we continue to contribute to this piece of ongoing work. These meetings are vital so Government understands (through the Building Ministers Forum) that we are committed to the Building Confidence Report and the reforms that are necessary for the industry. I acknowledge that state and territories will have difficulty with ‘harmonisation’ across the country, however as I mentioned earlier, compliance and consistency is something we must strive for.

I believe it is time that states and territories stop looking in the rear vision mirror and contemplate what we need for positive reform/s as we head into a new year.

Have a great weekend ahead everyone.
Greg Hughes


Better Regulation: A Ten Point Plan From The Australian Institute of Building

The AIB supports a cooperative and productive building and construction environment based on consultation between government, industry and academia through formal mechanisms, and appropriate appointment of risk and responsibility owned by the various parties. It supports a coordinated unified system of regulation for the construction industry based on the following principles:

  1.   Code of Ethics 
  2.   Single Regulatory Agency
  3.   National Construction Code
  4.   Formal Education for Builders
  5.   Licencing of Key Building Professions and Trades
  6.   Registration System for all Builders and Trades
  7.   Building Quality Manager
  8.   Documentation Review
  9.   Building Surveyor Sign Off
  10.   Insurance System   

 More information about each point – click here.


We recently met up with the new NSW Government Building Commissioner, David Chandler. Both National President, David Burnell, myself and one of the AIB’s NSW Chapter Vice President’s had an initial free flowing discussion around a number of points including:

  • How the AIB can assist with the reform that David’s Department will be committing to over the next five years
  • The ongoing negative media coverage of the industry and how we can do our bit to put some balance into this issue
  • Some of the key outcomes of the recent Constructing Our World conference in Sydney
  • Key meetings that the AIB has had with Tier 1 firms and their feedback etc

Once David’s future planning becomes more public, I will be sure to pass this on. With the end of the year fast approaching and Christmas mere weeks away we have been preparing for next year and have opened submissions for the 2020 Professional Excellence in Building Awards!!!

In addition, we have launched a dedicated website for our much talked about annual program. Features of the site include:

  • A photo gallery of previous winners and events
  • Links and news for all upcoming state, territory and national awards programs
  • Spotlight on previous Building Professional of the Year winners
  • One stop shop to buy Award function tickets online
  • Copies of past Awards magazines covering both nominations and finalists

See the site here. Many thanks to Awards Coordinator, Abbey Czudek for creating the new site. I believe it is long overdue and will make quite a difference in the way we market and generally communicate the events.

Have a great weekend ahead everyone.
Greg Hughes


The newly elected President of the nation’s peak building and construction industry advocacy organisation has urged the Senate to pass the Ensuring Integrity laws.

Simon Butt was elected National President of Master Builders Australia on the weekend at a meeting of Master Builders Associations the building and construction industry in each state and territory.

“There was an overwhelming consensus from Master Builders’ members around the country that the Ensuring Integrity laws are vital to protecting building businesses from union bullying and restoring the rule of law in our industry,” Simon Butt said.

“Our industry for years been afflicted by the bullying, intimidation and thuggery of construction unions and their officials, some of whom repeatedly flout the law and bully small building businesses almost every day. We need the Ensuring Integrity laws to make sure there are real consequences that will act as a deterrent for these flagrant reoffenders,” Simon Butt said.

Simon Butt has more than 30 years of experience in the building and construction industry. Simon is highly regarded in the ACT and ‘Canberra Region’ where he is a former President of Master Builders ACT .

Simon is Chief Executive of Manteena, an award-winning Canberra based construction contractor with a track record of working on some of the most iconic projects in the nation’s capital including Parliament House, and completing construction projects across Australia and internationally in 23 countries.

Simon is also a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Building and Member of Australian Institute of Company Directors. In 2018 he was appointed an Adjunct Professor at the University of Canberra.

For further information contact: Ben Carter, Director Media & Public Affairs – 0447 775 507






Australian Building Codes Board are seeking Expressions of Interest (EOI) for a secondment opportunity in the role of Senior Project Officer (EL1) in the NCC Education and Awareness team at the ABCB.

Click here to download the “how to apply” document

Download advert here. 

For more information please contact:
Clare Wright – Group Manager, NCC Education and Awareness
02 6276 17700 or email 


The Australian Construction Industry Forum (ACIF) forecasts that the decline in Residential Building will be so deep that it will dominate the outlook for building and construction, dragging down economic growth and employment. The outlook has been detailed in the latest Australian Construction Market Report, released today. ACIF indicates there have been recent signs of improvement in some markets, but it will take time for the impact to be felt throughout all building and construction markets.

“The lowest interest rates on record have been reduced even more, despite this access to finance and credit has presented a significant hurdle to developers, builders, investors and owner occupiers. Market adversity has encouraged builders to withdraw from development of new projects; we witnessed new dwelling approvals plummet last year and commencements have also fallen. A fall in residential building activity is locked into the pipeline and this will take a while for this to be put into reverse,” said ACIF Construction Forecasting Council Chair Bob Richardson.​

Residential Building Activity
Residential Building work fell 0.4% last year (2018-19). A much deeper contraction of 8.4% is expected this year (2019-20), dragging the value of work done down to $96 billion. The rebound in building activity is expected to be delayed until 2021-22. The drop in activity will be difficult to avoid despite recent improvements in house prices because it will take time to restore approval numbers, secure land and commence new projects and address other ‘lags’.

Building and Construction Work Done ($ billion)

Non-Residential Building Activity
In marked contrast to Residential Building, Non-Residential Building activity is midway through a growth phase. Expanded business investment in Accommodation, Industrial and Offices, and Public sector investment, especially in Education and Defence. Growth is expected to continue through the remainder of this year and into 2020-21. This will raise activity to peak at $45 billion.

Infrastructure Construction Activity
Work done in Infrastructure Construction contracted by 5.5% last year to $62 billion. This reflected the completion of large projects, and delays in shifting to new projects which are often in different sectors and geographies. Infrastructure construction activity is expected to return to growth in line with expanded plans and programs, raising work done to $66 billion in 2019-20 and $68 billion in 2020-21.

Total Building and Construction Activity
While the downturn in Residential Building activity is expected to deepen this year, the depth of the decline will be offset by increases in other building and construction activities. The expected rebound in Infrastructure Construction spending will be too little too late to prevent a fall in total building and construction activity this year. Growing Infrastructure Construction spending will be sufficient to stabilise the amount of building and construction work to be done in 2020-21 and lead to a return to growth in 2021-22.

Employment in building and construction
Construction employment is projected to fall 2% to 1,159,000 jobs over this year, reflecting the significant decline in Residential Building activity that will be difficult to avoid. This is a concern because Residential Building is the most labour-intensive type of building and construction. Construction employment is projected to track sideways for 2-3 years based on relative stability in the level of total building and construction activity.

Building and Construction Activity in Summary 






Industry Outlook
Total building and construction work fell 8.2% last year to $233 billion. A further fall of 1.7% is expected this year (2019-20). Most, of the large losses in Residential Building activity are expected to be offset by increases in Infrastructure Construction and Non-Residential Building.

Download PDF Media Release here.

About Australian Construction Industry Forum (ACIF)
Australian Construction Industry Forum (ACIF) is the trusted voice of the Australian construction industry. ACIF facilitates and supports an active dialogue between key players in residential and non-residential building, and engineering construction, other industry groups, and government agencies. ACIF’s focus is on innovation, collaboration, equity and sustainability for the industry. More information on ACIF is available from ​​.