Page 3662 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 23 November 2022

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Building—Construction Occupations Registrar

Ministerial statement

MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra—Assistant Minister for Economic Development, Minister for the Arts, Minister for Business and Better Regulation, Minister for Human Rights and Minister for Multicultural Affairs) (10.24): I am pleased to advise the Assembly of the statement of expectations issued to the Construction Occupations Registrar, which was notified yesterday and commences today.

Under the Construction Occupations (Licensing) Act 2004, as the minister responsible for the registrar’s regulatory functions I may make a statement setting out my expectations in relation to the registrar’s functions. This is the first time this statement has been issued. The provision in the act which provides for this allows me to clearly outline the general expectations for the role, while preserving the independence of the registrar to determine how best to exercise his or her functions.

This statement does not diminish nor reflect on the hard work and achievements of the registrar; rather, it reinforces and builds on this work to date. It does so by formalising the clear expectations from me, as minister, and from this government, in relation to the role the registrar has in addressing building quality in the ACT, and requiring a report against these. The statement of expectations sets out these expectations without directing the registrar about the way in which they must exercise their functions, nor the exercise of a function related to an individual or class of person. The registrar will be guided in the exercise of their functions by the Access Canberra accountability commitment framework, and the model litigant guidelines when responding to claims and litigation.

The statement has been developed in consultation with the registrar. Overall, I expect the registrar to apply their statutory powers to protect homeowners from the significant financial, emotional and physical harm that can come from poor building quality outcomes, and to instil in the ACT community a greater confidence in the construction sector. I have asked the registrar to hold occupational licensees to account for poor building quality outcomes. This government has made it clear that poor building quality will not be tolerated in the ACT. The government has introduced a number of reforms to improve building quality, and continues to ensure that the registrar has the tools needed to respond to issues promptly, enforce the rectification of construction defects, and use data and intelligence to identify and investigate these defects.

The registrar will prioritise available resources to quickly identify defects and non-compliance and to provide for matters to be rapidly escalated if they need detailed investigation and further regulatory responses. This is the case whether it is a deep excavation, a defect in a building, or an issue with a plumbing or electrical installation. The registrar will also enforce the rectification of construction defects by the responsible licensee. While cooperative compliance is usually the most effective regulatory tool, I expect the registrar will undertake thorough investigations of defects and apply available construction laws and regulatory powers where appropriate. This includes licensees and former licensees, as well as the directors and former directors of defunct companies. It is not acceptable for someone to attempt to avoid their responsibilities by winding up a company.

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