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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 8 Hansard (29 October) . . Page.. 2515 ..

MR OSBORNE (continuing):

Various Ministers have argued a case over the past year or so that their government-provided inspection system has some flaws. As I said before, I have been unfortunate enough to have seen enough houses and units in Tuggeranong to agree with them. But in saying that I also agree with the Labor Party that in the long run the people of Canberra would be better served through keeping the government inspectors. I believe that the Minister would have a greater level of control over his inspectors and that there would be less potential for problems than if there were private inspectors.

Finally, I wish to comment on the proposed savings that this package of Bills would produce. As members are well aware, I am greatly concerned that the Territory has never lived within its means, and I recently tabled legislation seeking to establish in law certain principles which must be followed in the preparation of the annual budget. In tabling that legislation, I made it clear that, while I believe living within your means is important, the Government is not a business and that every decision made by it ought not to be made with a view to the bottom line.

When society is moving away from self-regulation in most areas - police, solicitors and many others - I am not prepared to support these Bills and I am not prepared to put at risk the trust expected, even demanded, by the public in the construction of the family home, and I intend to vote accordingly.

MR QUINLAN (6.05): Mr Speaker, a long time ago my job in Canberra was working with Readymix Concrete, and I well remember the saga of the rusty reo.

Mr Moore: That is the stuff that is crumbling out there.

MR QUINLAN: That is right, mate. It has a heritage stamp on it, though. I remember the saga of the rusty reo. This is the same reinforcing metal that went from footing to footing as the same builder saved a few bob. I am not painting every contractor in the building game as bad, but we still have to recognise that human nature is exactly that - human nature. There is a propensity from time to time for people in the building industry to cut corners. There is a great temptation to do so, inspectors or no, and it is very necessary that we provide the maximum protection for people. For most families, investment in a family home is the greatest investment in their lives. I do not particularly want to be a party to a process of diminution of the protection and the assurance of protection that home builders have.

Regulation is, to my mind, like the law of the land. It is not there for most of us. It is unnecessary for most of us, because it is our standards and our principles that guide us rather than the law of the land. The law is there to cater for the lowest common denominators in society. Unfortunately, it is the same thing with regulation. Just because the regulation is there it does not accuse every contractor, every builder and every tradesperson of being crooked. It ensures protection against those few who might cut corners. There are temptations in business to cut corners, particularly if you have a tight economy as we have now. Businesses on the edge make money or die. They make money or go out of business. They cut corners or go out of business. There is not a lot to lose. I would dearly love to have faith in self-regulation but I do not. I have a bit more faith in human nature.

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