Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 8 Hansard (29 October) . . Page.. 2513 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
I understand that the local construction industry is supporting the Government's proposals, but that does not make them the best way of regulating building work. The construction industry obviously has a vested interest in minimising the regulation under which it operates and thinks that the government scheme will give it more flexibility. I should note, however, that the support for these changes is not uniform across the construction industry. The plumbing profession in particular has taken a strong public interest in this issue and has raised a number of concerns about the potential drop in plumbing standards from these changes and about the public health implications.
The plumbing industry's concerns illustrate that the Assembly needs to assess these Bills on the basis of the broader community's interest in having building work undertaken to the highest possible standards. It is not good enough just to apply the privatisation model so favoured by the Liberal Government to whichever government regulatory function seems to require improvement.
MR HIRD (5.57): Mr Speaker, we are debating the Construction Practitioners Registration Bill 1998, the Building (Amendment) Bill (No. 2) 1998 and the Electricity (Amendment) Bill 1998, which were looked at by the scrutiny of Bills committee, which I am a member of. I would like to thank the Minister and his departmental officers for a quick response. They certainly laid to rest some of the concerns of that committee.
Mr Speaker, I wish to support the legislation. I believe that private certification and self-certification will provide a more satisfactory form of regulation of the construction industry. Other parts of Australia have been introducing the private certification of building over the last five years. The Northern Territory was the first to do so and our neighbours in New South Wales, under Labor Premier Carr - surprise, surprise - are the most recent. If the ACT adopts private certification, only two States will remain to follow. I understand that one of them, Tasmania, under a new Labor government, is putting into train steps to bring in these proposals. That will leave only Western Australia to follow. The Commonwealth Small Business Deregulation Task Force recommended private certification of building, and the legislation carries out an ACT commitment to implement that recommendation.
Development of the legislation included a long process of consultation with the ACT community. I understand that it began 21/2 years ago when a discussion paper was widely circulated. Responses came from those involved in the regulation of building, electricity and plumbing in other parts of Australia as well as from the ACT. The responses were incorporated in a preferred options paper that was distributed in 1997 and discussed with the industry groups concerned. These included the Housing Industry Association, the HIA; the Master Builders Association, the MBA; the Master Plumbers, Drainers and Gasfitters Association; and the National Electrical Contractors Association. Consultations with the industry associations have continued this year during the drafting of the legislation and I compliment the Minister on this. I am told that one industry representative has travelled regularly from Parramatta to attend workshops that produced the Bills in their present form. We thank that person for that. Regulations will