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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 1 July 2010) . . Page.. 3050 ..


It will be no surprise that we, as Liberals, support the building industry in the ACT. They are an important segment of our community and our economy. They do a lot of good and a lot of good work. The vast bulk of our industry performs at a very high standard, and we have a lot of confidence in it. It is apparent that, in some instances, standards are not being met. It is also apparent that, after five years of complaints by OCN members, those complaints are not being handled well by the government. We cannot leave it to this government to suddenly succeed where they have for so long failed to act. We must take action, get answers and get results. I therefore commend the motion to the Assembly.

MS LE COUTEUR (Molonglo) (10.59): I agree with almost all of the comments that the Leader of the Opposition has made. This is an important problem, and it is one that we need fixed. We debated earlier this week the change of use charge, but I would have thought, in terms of things which are impacting negatively on the building industry in Canberra at present, that this must be one which is impacting even more. Anyone who watched the Stateline program about multi-unit developments would have to think twice before buying one, which will have a greater impact than a possible increase in price.

I think it is very important we get this right for the future owners of buildings and for the sake of the industry. I am really pleased to find that the three parties are very interested in this issue. This was something that we spoke about at great length in the estimates hearing. While it is clear that the government took quite a long time to respond to the calls of the community and the questioning from the Greens, it is clear that they are responding.

It is also very clear that this actually is a very complicated area with building standards and construction issues, certification processes and building indemnity and warranty issues as well as issues related to various phoenix companies. As I said in my speech last week on the COLA bill, a lot of different things—some smaller and some bigger—will be needed to fix this problem. Because of the technical nature of the problem, a proper solution is going to inevitably require some serious government consideration and input.

Given that the government has made it clear that it is currently looking at this issue quite seriously—the minister himself in the estimates process said that he was, in fact, one of the victims of the problem—the most useful and constructive thing to do is to let ACTPLA finish its current round of discussions and negotiations before the Assembly starts any additional process. I also say this just from a sheer practical point of view—it is very confusing for the community out there to simultaneously have the government investigating something and the Assembly investigating something. I speak from a degree of experience here, because that is what is now happening with the live music inquiry. We have a parliamentary inquiry and an interdepartmental committee, both with pretty identical terms of reference. Because we have been speaking to industry participants, we know it is very confusing for most people as to who is doing what and how they fit together.

So that I do not forget to do it later, I move the amendment circulated in my name:


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