Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 8 Hansard (29 October) . . Page.. 2516 ..
MR QUINLAN (continuing):
I also share Mr Hargreaves' concern at the downsizing of BEPCON and then the employment of dissatisfaction with the performance of the inspecting regime, or the regulation regime that exists now, as an argument to replace it. I think we have that argument wrong. If there is something wrong with the system, let us first look at whether the system needs to be improved rather than thrown out. Too often that argument is used these days.
I am not prepared to endorse what is effectively the privatisation of something that I believe is not only the province of government but the responsibility of government to ensure that we all have protection within the community.
MR KAINE (6.09): I am supporting these Bills from the Government. I hear the concerns expressed by some members, but I believe that the self-regulation of industries is a well-established practice today and I see no reason why the construction industry is less able to regulate itself than some others that have been self-regulating for some time. At the end of the day, of course, it is not left to individual tradesmen to certify their own work. After they have done any certification, copies of documents have to go to the Building Controller, and the Building Controller is still responsible to determine whether the job has been properly done. I am sure the Building Controller will make it clear to certifying officers from the private sector that, if they are not doing their job right, their right to continue to certify may disappear.
I do not have the same concerns as some members do. I think that it is possible to control what these people do and to make sure that they perform. Besides any action that the Government itself might take, of course, the professional bodies which collectively add up to the building industry - the Master Builders Association, the Housing Industry Association, consulting engineers and the others who are involved in the building industry - have themselves a responsibility to make sure that their members perform their tasks properly. It is not just the Government that is going to be oversighting what is happening. The professional bodies that constitute the construction industry are going to be oversighting their members as well. By and large that sort of oversight works in other industries, and I believe it can work here.
I do have one concern. If there is no provision already by agreement with the building industry or in some other fashion for anybody who has a house built and finds that they have a lemon - and there have been a few of those over the years - I would expect the Government or the industry, or the Government and the industry working together, to set up some sort of a compensation scheme for people who do end up with the product of a bad tradesman's work.
No matter how much control you have and no matter how much supervision you provide, as has been clearly demonstrated in the past, there is always the opportunity for somebody to fail in his duty in terms of trade qualifications, trade standards and the like and produce an end product that does not meet the standards. As long as there is some provision for catching that sort of substandard behaviour or performance and compensating people who might otherwise find that they have made a big investment and did not get their money's worth, then I can see no difficulty. If any such proposal is in mind or if it is going to be