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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 19 October 2010) . . Page.. 4569 ..


I believe that is because three storeys and over requires a significantly greater level of skill than the smaller buildings. But I very much hope the reason that we are not seeing as many problems with over 10-storey buildings is simply that, as we all know, there are not a lot of over 10-storey residential buildings in the ACT.

I am very pleased that the government is working with the OCN to coordinate a survey of owners corporations to get a better idea of the extent of the problem, and I do hope that this will be the forerunner of other cases where the OCN can work with the government to get access to owners corporations.

One of the major findings was that waterproofing was a major issue, which, unfortunately, sometimes takes a long time to become obvious to the residents. This is one that is often discovered much later than other problems like structural and soundproofing defects.

I also want to note one of the things I found most worrying in this report. It stated that houses are only being built with a 35-year lifespan. Last year, I went and looked at the Victorian government’s public housing complex at Windsor, K2, which they have built to last for 200 years. This is really what we should be aiming at. We need to get our construction and building policies right and our building practices right so that we build things that are going to be here for centuries, not just decades.

Later today we are going to be debating a bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the ACT. We cannot reduce greenhouse gas emissions and then have the situation that the buildings we have built now are going to have to be replaced in a greenhouse, carbon-constrained world. We can do better, and we know we can. And we must.

I was very surprised to find that Engineering Australia were not invited to the building quality forum. They clearly have a lot to offer in terms of building quality issues. I recently attended one of their forums and saw, in not very pretty pictures, why they need to be involved. I even heard of the instance of a death caused by poor building practices where an unflued pool heater asphyxiated someone.

I will only speak quite briefly on the various issues at the roundtables because Mr Barr has already been through quite a lot of them. A major issue is skills shortages, and that clearly has led to quite a number of the problems. Obviously, this is a much bigger issue than can be addressed solely by the forum. I note Mr Barr is also the Minister for Education and Training and I trust that, in his other portfolio, he will also look at this.

Issues related to skills are things like company licences, where only the skills of the nominee are assessed, not the people that are employed by the company. As building standards and technologies are constantly changing, there is a real need to ensure that licensees are kept up to date, but there is no mechanism for this at this stage.

Another area that was noted through the forum was that builders, in fact, have minimal training on how to fix problems, which often makes it difficult for them to carry out rectification orders. I note some of the changes Mr Barr noted. There will immediately be mandatory inspection of wet areas by certifiers. We support that. We


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