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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1685 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

gained through advanced education and clinical experience in a specific area of nursing practice.

I commend the Nurses Amendment Bill 2003 and its explanatory statement to the Assembly.

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

Building (Residential Building Warranty) Amendment Bill 2003

Mr Corbell

, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR CORBELL (Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (11.03): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I wish to present the Building (Residential Building Warranty) Amendment Bill 2003. This bill is part of the government's response to the crisis in the insurance industry. It deals with the renewed possibility that the ACT will be left with only one provider of residential building warranty protection.

The ACT's Building Act, and similar legislation in other parts of Australia, requires warranty protection for new buildings and significant alterations or extensions. Originally this protection was provided by insurance. In 2002 the Master Builders Association's residential building warranty insurance agent, Dexta, withdrew from the market. The government responded by introducing legislation for the establishment of fidelity funds to provide building warranty protection alongside the Housing Industry Association's existing insurer. The Master Builder's Association then established a fidelity fund scheme under this legislation.

Residential building warranty insurers have maintained that governments across Australia need to change their regulatory regimes to minimise the call on insurance pools. The scope of the building work that residential building warranty must cover varies considerably between jurisdictions and has been widest in jurisdictions such as New South Wales and Victoria. In March last year, in response to the insurance crisis, the insurers obtained the agreement of governments in Victoria and New South Wales to reduce the scope of residential building warranty insurance. The resultant legislative reforms are now in place in those states.

The ACT was then asked by the remaining insurer operating in the territory to bring the Building Act into line with these reforms to ensure that insurance would continue to be available here. The insurer asked that that insurance should only apply if the builder has died, disappeared or become insolvent. ACT legislation currently requires cover where the builder is insolvent, dead or has disappeared, but it can be interpreted to also require cover when every effort has failed against a builder who is not insolvent or dead and who has not disappeared.

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