Property Council rejects call for developer licensing regime

Ian Bushnell 23 July 2019 6

Building defects remains a hot issue and some believe licences for developers will lead to better outcomes. Photo: George Tsotsos.

The ACT Government and the property industry are on a collision course over the possible introduction of licences for developers in the wake of last weekend’s ACT Labor conference.

The conference adopted a motion calling for a licensing regime and the Government said it was considering such a proposal.

The motion called for a number of requirements to be imposed on developers, aimed at addressing the continuing issue of building defects and some builders and developers avoiding their responsibilities to rectify them, but also payments to contractors.

These include developers being able to demonstrate the financial and operational capacity to complete jobs and address any building defects that may arise, as well as not engaging in ‘phoenix’ activity or unfair commercial practices.

Developers would also not be able to impose time frames on building contractors that could lead to unsafe work practices, breaches of Commonwealth or Territory law or building quality outcomes.

They would have to establish a project trust account where funds, including retention payments, were held in trust for head contractors and subcontractors until payments are due, and reveal their sources of finance.

They would also have to agree to not engage in deceptive or misleading marketing when promoting a development to the public.

Minister for Building Quality Improvement Gordon Ramsay said the Government was in the early stages of examining options for a proposed developer licencing scheme in the ACT.

“I am committed to reforming the building and construction sector to ensure that Canberrans can have confidence when purchasing a property,” he said. “As part of that commitment, the Government will continue to look at reforms right across the supply chain to ensure confidence in the ACT’s building and construction sector.”

But executive director of the ACT Property Council Adina Cirson said a licensing regime was unlikely to prevent building defects and there were big questions around governance and how compliance would be enforced.

She said that last week federal, state and territory ministers agreed to take a national approach to building regulation and standards, and implementing the recommendations of the Shergold Weir report.

Ms Cirson believes that individual jurisdictions should not be going it alone on measures such as developer licences.

“It’s not going to be the panacea for fixing defects in buildings. It’s better if we work at a national level to make sure that the building code, the regulations, insurance schemes, certification schemes, building materials, all of those issues, are done from a national point of view,” she said.

The licensing issue comes amid renewed Government warnings to industry about building practices and defects.

“We will continue our crackdown on dodgy operators in the construction sector with increased levels of enforcement and compliance activity on building sites around the Territory,” Mr Ramsay said.

“Industry has been clearly put on notice that the Government will not tolerate building work that was not of a high standard – and neither will the community. This was also reflected at the recent ACT Labor conference.”


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6 Responses to Property Council rejects call for developer licensing regime
John Wojcicka John Wojcicka 2:48 pm 24 Jul 19

This is an extremely serious issue which unfortunately is not restricted to just developers. As a builder with 30 years experience in the ACT I have worked on projects for Commonwealth Government, ACT Government and the private sector with ridiculously unrealistic deadlines. As builders we have to manage the time, cost, quality and OH&S for a project yet when we are presented with deadlines that simply can’t be met without working our staff and subbies 12+ hours a day, 7 days a week we are still expected to achieve the same quality outcomes. Something definitely needs to be done. We all know that developments aren’t cheap however making the builder responsible by tightening deadlines to reduce holding and development costs is not the answer.

Barry Finch Barry Finch 7:38 pm 23 Jul 19

This needs to be Australia wide not just ACT. We have had an Australia wide Uniform Building Code of Australia for decades BUT if I want to build your house I need to have a builders licence BUT anybody can currently build a high rise residential/commercial development. It's been an absolutely joke for decades and all States snd Territories have been aware and done nothing.

    John Wojcicka John Wojcicka 2:40 pm 24 Jul 19

    Hi Barry, I believe your comments or understanding may come from another state, I.e. NSW, in the ACT in order to build a high rise or commercial development you need to have the highest level of Builder’s Licence. Yet we can go over the border to NSW and do whatever we like with no restrictions.

    Barry Finch Barry Finch 3:51 pm 24 Jul 19

    John Wojcicka . Hi John. Thank you for the correction. Your right, I'm relatively new to Canberra. My expererience (generally poor) was based as part of an Owners Corp in NSW.

Andrew Connor Andrew Connor 6:51 pm 23 Jul 19

It’s hard to have confidence in the industry when developers explicitly forbid buyer inspections during construction and won’t identify licensed tradies involved in construction or their insurers.

David Newman David Newman 6:34 pm 23 Jul 19

Well, of course the Property Council would be against it. Whose interests are they trying to protect?

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