Strict licensing regime first step to improving building quality, new Minister told

Ian Bushnell 27 August 2018

Government needs to take lead on building quality, says MBA.

Master Builders ACT has welcomed the creation of the new Cabinet portfolio of Building Quality Improvement and called on the Minister, Gordon Ramsay, to raise the bar for entry to the building industry and enforce existing regulations to protect consumers and tradespeople and lift standards.

Master Builders ACT Chief Executive Officer Michael Hopkins said the MBA had long campaigned for building quality reforms and congratulated the Government for elevating the importance of this issue by creating a new portfolio dedicated to building quality improvements.

“The MBA’s calls to improve building quality are aimed at protecting consumers and the many quality local tradespeople and building companies from operators that happily cut corners, compromise safety standards, and dodge their legal responsibilities, which ultimately lower standards for everyone,” Mr Hopkins said.

He said the ACT building regulatory regime set a very low barrier to enter the industry, and licensing reforms and the introduction of a licence or registration regime for trade contracts, designers, architects and engineers, was the first step to improving building quality over the long term.

There also needed to be a system of professional development training for those already in the industry so contractors maintained their knowledge of current building standards and laws.

“Finally, it is important that Government enforce the building laws that are already in place. Too often the MBA receives phone calls from consumers who have been let down by the existing regulatory and enforcement system,” Mr Hopkins said.

“Industry Associations play a valuable service to educate and assist industry and consumers, however these services should not take the place of well-funded, government-led complaints and enforcement system.”

The MBA looked forward to working with Mr Ramsay on the important building quality reforms already announced by the Government and any new recommendations resulting from the Committee Inquiry into Building Quality.

Meanwhile, UnionsACT has welcomed the Government ministerial portfolio changes related to workplace safety and asbestos.

Under the new arrangements, WorkSafe ACT will report to the Workplace Safety Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith, rather than Regulatory Services Minister Ramsay. Responsibility for asbestos safety will also now be under Ms Stephen-Smith.

UnionsACT secretary Alex White said the changes were sensible.

“It is a common-sense decision to have WorkSafe ACT answer to the Minister for Workplace Safety,” he said.

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