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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 1 Hansard (15 February) . . Page.. 208 ..

Building Amendment Bill 2001

Mr Smyth , pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory memorandum.

Title read by Clerk.

MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services, Minister for Business, Tourism and the Arts and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (10.36): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

This bill implements a recommendation of the coroner's report on the death of Katie Bender at the Royal Canberra Hospital implosion. The coroner said that "the distinction between leased an unleased land should be irrelevant in the building approvals process". Mr Tom Sherman, in responding on the implementation of the coroner's report, recommended that "early consideration be given to amending [the Building Act] to ensure that the building approval process applies to building work on all land, leased or unleased".

Currently, there is no capacity for ACT or Commonwealth government buildings on unleased land to be approved under the Building Act. Although these may later formally be approved when they are sold, the approval is contingent on the building being renovated to meet the often more stringent standard at that later time. This bill extends the application of the Building Act 1972 to buildings on unleased territory land.

After this financial year, independent private certifiers will be employed on all new ACT government building projects on leased and unleased land. There may be some additional cost involved in some of these projects due to the hiring of a private certifier. However, this will be offset by the benefits to be gained by having buildings meeting the relevant standards now rather than having to later renovate them to meet existing standards then.

The extension might have potentially required a number of structures such as bridges, dams, culverts, light poles, playground equipment to be formally approved also. However, the Building Act was not considered an appropriate mechanism for the regulation of these structures, and they have been exempted.

Civil engineering structures such as bridges, dams and culverts are constructed in accordance with quality assurance provisions in contracts. In addition, private certifiers are qualified to assess buildings but are not generally qualified to assess civil works like bridges and dams. It is proposed that relatively simple structures such as light poles and playground equipment be exempted, with conditions placed on their installation.

The bill allows the Commonwealth to seek an approval under the Building Act, although it will not be bound to do so. I will continue consultation with the Commonwealth regarding the possibility of amendments to Commonwealth legislation to bind the Commonwealth government in relation to buildings in the ACT.

Debate (on motion by Mr Hargreaves ) adjourned to the next sitting.

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