Minister for Housing and Public Works, Mick de Brenni said that maintaining confidence in Queensland’s $46 billion a year industry was paramount in the wake of concerns raised over the structural integrity of NSW high rise apartment development, Opal.
“A strong industry, employing hundreds of thousands of Queenslanders is vitally important,” Mr de Brenni said. “But so is the safety of Queenslanders, which is a top priority of the Palaszczuk Government.”
Mr de Brenni said that whilst questions have been raised about the builder and certifier in the Opal case, it is the whole system that needs attention.
“The building and construction industry in Australia has seen decades of deregulation, largely in the pursuit of productivity.
“That has created a race to the bottom and as a result, confidence in the building integrity system has been undermined.”
Mr de Brenni said that through collaboration with industry, sweeping reforms were being methodically implemented in Queensland to restore confidence.
In 2016 the Palaszczuk Government commenced a comprehensive examination of the building and construction regulatory system with a focus to ensure Queenslanders have the utmost confidence in our built environment.
Then, in 2017, the Palaszczuk Government published the Queensland Building Plan (QBP).
The QBP sets out a reform program across the building and construction industry covering everything from building product safety, through to security of payments and the important issue of building certification.
“Queensland is much further down the path of restoring effective regulation and oversight within the construction industry than other states, including the introduction of nation leading non-conforming building product laws to ensure the safety of Queenslanders.
“2019 will see a continuation of the implementation of the QBP reforms, and reform to building certification is a key step for 2019.
During 2019 the Palaszczuk Government will be advancing several reforms that will strengthen independence and improve professional standards and compliance of certifiers.
“We will enhance the regulatory oversight for certifiers including making improvements to the disciplinary framework, we will end the practice of builders being able to shop around during a project to get the answers that suit them and ensure that the sector has a highly trained and skilled workforce.
“The Palaszczuk Government reforms will improve accountability and processes in the certification sector and restore consumer confidence.
Mr de Brenni said the QBP reforms put Queensland in a strong position following the findings of the Shergold Weir
Report, commissioned by building Ministers nationally in 2017.
“Queensland had adopted all the recommendations in the report, noting that in most cases our standards were already at or above those proposed in the report, and where there are gaps, these are identified and will be rectified through the implementation of the QBP in 2019.
The Queensland Building Plan also furnished the QBCC with new powers of investigation to ensure industry regulations are being properly complied with.
The QBCC will use these new powers to consider the activities of the builder and certifier in the Opal case.
“Queenslanders deserve to expect their buildings are safe and secure and built to required standards with products that are fit for purpose, this is why I have also asked the Queensland Building and Construction Commission to use its new powers to look into the activities of the Opal builder and certifier in Queensland.
Mr de Brenni said no government projects involved the builder in question in the Opal case.
The QBCC is continually monitoring building activity around the state and conducts regular audits of building sites. During the last financial year, they inspected approximately 5,820 sites and issued 827 Directions to Rectify.
The QBCC takes swift action should building defects be identified, and licensees must comply with a direction to rectify otherwise they face financial and disciplinary penalties.
The Commission also investigates compliance with the Building Act, which governs certifiers and the National Construction Code, which regulates the standard of buildings.
In addition, the Government has established a Board of Engineers and Architects, both of which conduct investigations into the professional conduct of those occupations.
Details of investigations are presented in each of the authorities’ annual reports.
“Prevention is far better than cure, so the QBCC can now take proactive steps to identify any areas of concern here in our State.”
Mr de Brenni said the issue of regulatory standards, the responsibilities of State and Territories needed a high level of attention in each jurisdiction to ensure a robust national system.
“At the next Building Ministers’ Forum due in February, I will demand the federal government and all states and territories ensure they are meeting the high standards Queensland has set.”
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