14 June 2019

This has been a busy time for institute activities, our Chapters are now actively hosting the various Professional Excellence Awards presentation events. We have completed award presentations in Canberra and Adelaide, and I am currently travelling to attend the QLD Chapter – Professional Excellence Awards tonight at the Pullman Hotel in Brisbane. In the next two weeks I am scheduled to visit Hong Kong with the OS Chapter President – Norman Faifer and the CEO Greg Hughes before travelling to Singapore for meetings and returning via Perth to attend the WA Chapter awards.

This week has seen the announcement of Queens Birthday Honours lists for 2019. I have phoned and sent letters of congratulations on behalf of the Institute to a number of industry contacts who within my professional network who received recognition of National significance.

We acknowledge the service of:

Laurence Evans – OAM (Victoria)
Associate Professor Peter Williams – AM (FAIB ret) (Victoria)
Dr Paul Steinfort – AM (Victoria)
Maha Sinnathamby – AM (Queensland)

It is pleasing that the strong AIB / Melbourne University connection was recognised through  one of our members Associate Professor Peter Williams – AM (FAIB ret). Peter first joined the Institute as a student member in 1964 being encouraged to do so by the late Emeritus Professor Leo U Simon FAIB FIEAust, the Foundation Professor of Building in the Faculty. Peter went on to work in the firm of L U Simon Builders whilst completing his studies.

The Building degree (promoted by the AIB) at the University of Melbourne commenced in 1958, and Peter was one of the first graduates of that course and went on to become the first graduate of the course to be appointed to a full time staff position within the Faculty.

For many years Peter was the Editor (for some 20 years +) of the original AIB Chartered Builder magazine, the “AIB Papers”, a refereed journal of academic building industry articles and papers which was published quarterly, his work here in promoting building as an academic stream and as a profession was invaluable. Peter was elevated to Fellow of the Australian Institute of Building in 2004 in recognition of his services to the Institute, education and the industry in general.

Insurance Issues for industry

We have this week seen increased discussion on the reduction in cover and restrictions on Professional Indemnity [PI] insurance policies across the industry. Our friends at the AIBS have highlighted the extreme difficulties that some of their members will face shortly as regulators have not considered the recent changes in underwriters support across the industry (click here for AIBS communique). In my recent discussions with Darren Pavic of BRIC this week he noted that there is currently only one insurer providing policies for new client without exclusions in relation to combustible cladding with this insurer not taking on new building surveying clients after 2 July 2019.

A perfect storm is approaching as practitioners’ policies expire. If their renewal offer now contains qualifications or cover limitations including “cladding exclusions” these forms of policy will conflict with some State Regulators requiring unqualified cover to maintain various licences to practice. This is a serious matter and it could affect the entire industry productivity starting next month in July. Building Surveyors may be forced to effectively stop work without urgent Government intervention. Darren also noted the PI offerings for other industry professionals are being similarly restricted where they involve fire engineering, architectural design, etc.

Some jurisdictions for example in Queensland have indicated based on recent statements from the Queensland Minister for Public Works, Mick de Brenni, that local councils will step in as building certifiers if private certifiers are forced from the market.

So the AIB will clearly have a role advocating for our membership as this unfolds.

Presidential duties in the last period has included:

  • Attendance at a NSW Chapter committee meeting following my panel presentations at DesignBUILD to update the committee on activities around the country;
  • Attending the ACT Chapter Awards at a Canberra venue (after a break of two years due to a combined awards event shared with the NSW Chapter). The return to Canberra also introduced a change of presentation format as a shorter cocktail  function that increased the opportunity for industry networking;
  • Meeting with the NSW Chapter members and attending ACIF meetings in Sydney as the AIB representative / observer standing in for the CEO;
  • Meeting with the SA Chapter committee ahead of the PEA event to update the committee on activities around the country;
  • Renewing connections with the Statutory Domestic Insurance CEO in Victoria to discuss the critical issues facing Government and the VBA as state regulator:
  • local contacts in Melbourne a visit to Perth for meetings with the Head of School at Curtain University;
  • planning and teleconference meetings for the Institute as part of National Council governance;
  • meeting prospective partners do discuss initiative around AIB promotion;
  • planning for meetings, professional interviews and Hong Kong attendance for both awards and the annual chapter meeting to finalise the incoming Chapter committee;
  • Informal meeting and CoW presentation planning, for a short stop in Singapore to discuss the SIBL input and support for our upcoming International Building Conference scheduled in Sydney this September

Finally I met today in Brisbane, a potential business partner that is interested in promoting a healthier workforce. We have discussed how the issue of Prostate Cancer awareness can be raised within a large portion of workers and managers employed in the construction industry. The key to early identification is getting the clinical test done and analysing the results. We will have further details soon on how you can work with Maxwell Plus to utilise their Digital Clinic services to better link the analysis of results with Prostate Cancer Specialists.

We will continue to communicate with those outside our professional network that an AIB member is a Chartered Building Professional who understands the need to deliver a consistent professional service to both the building industry and the end consumer.

This month I would encourage you to book to attend your local Chapter award dinner and start planning for the International Conference in Sydney this September. Conference program details and bookings can be found here.

So I look forward to seeing you soon at an AIB event soon with our Professional Excellence Awards presentations this month in QLD, HK and WA Chapters.

David Burnell FAIB

National President, Australian Institute of Building