Sunday, 30 December 2018

Home  owners will be  better  protected from dodgy  certifiers under  the  NSW Government’s zero tolerance approach to the cowboys in the industry.

Minister for Better  Regulation Matt Kean  revealed a four point strategy, that  builds on recent legislation and  strong penalties, in an effort to fix Labor’s bungled privatisation of certifiers.

“There  has been growing  community  concern about  dodgy certifiers  and,  while  the cause of the  recent problems at the  Opal Tower  remains unknown,  what’s happened there  has put a spotlight on the industry again,” Mr Kean  said.

“Make  no mistake  – the  problems  in  the  certification  industry  were  created by Labor with the botched privatisation leaving the industry open  to  cowboys and  shonks who have  cast a shadow on the entire profession.”

“The majority of certifiers are  doing the right thing, but it’s time for the cowboys to go.” Mr Kean said it was unacceptable for certifiers to sign off on buildings that aren’t fit to live in, aren’t up to standard and  aren’t what hardworking mums and  dads paid for.

“We have  been working hard  to clean up Labor’s mess and  this plan is another step towards doing that, in addition to the other reforms that we have  made,” Mr Kean said.

The four point plan to improve the certification industry includes:

  • The biggest compliance operation in the  industry’s history, with 25-30%  of the industry to be audited every year in a strike force style approach;
  • A zero tolerance approach to  dodgy certifiers, including a  new  disciplinary policy   that   will   see  certifiers   immediately   kicked   out   of  the   industry   for corruption or negligently signing off on a building which is unsafe or structurally unsound;
  • Better protection for  strata buildings, with  certifiers  unable  to work on  new strata developments if they  have  breached the  code  of conduct in any  way, in the previous 12 months, regarding building quality; and
  • Increased transparency, which will include more information for homeowners about  a certifier’s disciplinary record,  on an enhanced name and shame register. Prospective buyers of off the plan developments will be provided with information about  a certifier’s history.

Mr Kean  said this strategy followed several measures and  tougher penalties that have already been introduced.

“In October this year,  I completed the first step in cleaning up the industry by passing new laws to mandate a code  of conduct for certifiers, crack down on conflicts of interest and  give Fair Trading the powers to get to the bottom of complaints,” Mr Kean said.

“There are  tougher penalties, including fines of up to $1.1  million and/or  two years jail for certifiers who issue false or misleading certificates and  I also released an  options paper on further steps to protect  home  owners.”

Minister for Planning & Housing and Special Minister of State Anthony Roberts said the Government  remains  vigilant  monitoring  the  situation  at  Opal  Tower,  and   its  first concern is for affected residents.

“Our investigators are still on site conducting their own independent assessment of the cause of the fault and  we expect more updates from them  soon.” Mr Roberts said.

“We’ll continue to be in contact with the developer of the site to ensure legal obligations to the residents are fulfilled and we will crackdown harshly on any failures in that regard.

“It is still too early to say what exactly caused the problem at Opal Tower but this announcement by colleague Minister Kean  today,  and  this Government’s track record on dealing with serious issues in the planning and housing regime in recent years show we’re ready  for anything.”

MEDIA: Richard Hodge | Minister Kean | 0428 952 161

John Macgowan | Minister Roberts | 0409 403 773