This week saw the NSW State Government release the final report from the independent investigation into Sydney’s Opal Tower issue/s.

As articulated by the NSW State Government (media release), one of the biggest recommendations related to the report is about ‘registering engineers’. The AIB welcomes Minister Kean’s response as a good first step – builders need to have confidence in the engineering as well as other design professions as much as the public. The statutory registration of engineers in NSW is a welcome addition of both transparency and accountability to the industry. We look to other jurisdictions to also follow this lead, and note Victoria already registers professional practitioners in many of the engineering disciplines.

It is also pleasing that Minister Kean in his statement talks about ‘the strength of the National Construction Code’ (NCC) as well as Australian building standards in terms of building safety. Not surprisingly, the AIB, is committed to this type of thinking.

Again, our call is that industry should be able to rely on a national framework for construction led by all state, territory and federal Ministers using the National Code with a uniform interpretation of the specific requirements. We must adopt a regime of national licencing for all building practitioners and this must be complemented by an industry wide approach to continuing professional development for all licence holders.

Regulators must start to sit up and take greater notice of what needs immediate reform / change.

Equally, the AIB will continue to push hard at every opportunity our support of the Shergold Weir Report and its recommendations for a better industry as the baseline for all jurisdictions. Notwithstanding all of this, I reiterate the strong message we offered at the recent Building Ministers Forum. The position of the AIB is that – as an industry Building Construction represents more than 10% of Australia’s workforce and more than 12% of Australia’s GDP, surely it is time as we head into a federal election we consider how a dedicated Federal Minister of Building and Construction might be just the champion we are looking for in matters of consistency in ‘building outcomes across Australia’ that we continue to talk about on a daily basis.

David Burnell FAIB
National President, Australian Institute of Building