Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 1 July 2010) . . Page.. 3054 ..
The government clearly has a role in educating people on the best way to seek remedy when they are faced with shoddy workmanship. For example, the Planning and Land Authority has discussed these issues with unit title and body corporate managers. It seems that body corporate managers, in the majority of cases, have been dealing with these issues directly with builders or by using consumer and civil remedies. We hope to be able to draw on their experience and perhaps strengthen their ability to get the best out of the builders of their buildings.
In the vast majority of cases, the problems are fixed through communication and negotiation between builders and owners. Unit plan managers typically receive complaints firsthand and deal with these directly. Some also commission their own reports on the extent and nature of problems raised with them. ACTPLA is talking to unit plan managers with a view to putting in place processes where ACTPLA can receive all of this information. This would enable the authority to get a much clearer picture across the city as to the nature and extent of problems that unit plan managers are contending with and thereby enable more targeted strategies to address them. Further, it would also give the authority a better understanding of where the particular construction practitioners are featuring more than others in relation to the complaints being received by unit plan managers.
I recently announced that the government is taking immediate action on this issue, as well as looking at longer term measures. I will take the opportunity today to advise the Assembly about the measures already put in place by the Planning and Land Authority. These measures will support existing processes, including the ACT’s strict licensing and compliance system, to improve building quality in the territory. ACTPLA’s building audit team will increase the level of onsite auditing of building certifiers with a focus on multi-unit development. The audit results will be analysed and any necessary further action taken.
The Construction Occupations Registrar has also advised me that he has started an immediate review of the existing mandatory inspections regime for both single and multi-unit construction. If the registrar advises that there is a need for increased or different mandatory inspection the government will make the required regulation changes as a matter of priority. Consultation with the community and the industry has identified a need to improve clarity about the roles and responsibilities of owners, building certifiers and builders.
To address this, the Planning and Land Authority will be overhauling building application forms and creating a new process that removes any ambiguity. I will also seek specific advice on suggestions that building certification be done at arm’s length from the developer. For example, one practice being looked at is the practice whereby certifiers enter into a contract with the lessee, but the builder also requires the certifier to enter a separate contract with them. One possibility is strengthening the legislation to make it an offence for that practice to occur, such that the builder would face disciplinary action if he is found to be insisting on that practice.
This is an area where the government will seek to strike a balance. We are open to practical reform to ensure public confidence in the regulatory system, and we are wary of counter-productive general regulation in reaction to specific problems. We will also carefully consider the advice we receive before proceeding.