Page 2659 - Week 08 - Friday, 1 July 2005

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In balancing community needs and community safety, we need to be mindful of the fact that cost rises in the building industry have a big effect on families looking to enter the market. I have spoken at length in the past and Dr Foskey often speaks about affordable housing. An area of importance to the provision of affordable housing is the need to try to cut red tape where possible and to try to keep building costs down as much as possible to allow people to have a reasonable opportunity to enter the housing market.

We will be monitoring this legislation closely to see how it works in practice, but we support the basic tidying up of a number of provisions. We support the general thrust of the bill. I have referred to an area of concern that was raised by one of the industry groups, but the opposition does not think that it is sufficient to justify opposing the legislation and will be supporting it.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (10.07): Mr Speaker, this bill is a clean-up subsequent to the introduction late in the last Assembly of legislation, which has brought most of the construction occupations into a consistent framework. As the system has bedded down, a few inconsistencies and inefficiencies have emerged and I am happy to support the resolution of them.

The most obvious of these is the adjustment to the current building code as it applies to alterations or extensions to buildings designed and approved under previous codes. Clearly, there are occasions when it is neither practical nor valuable to insist that some requirements under the new code apply to minor extensions and variations as long as they accord with the existing building, are safe and so on. I appreciate the care that the department has taken to ensure that safety duties, such as in regard to asbestos, are not compromised. There are also changes to the definition about plumbing plan certifiers and there are new definitions concerning electrical installation and incidental electrical work.

The introduction of this bill throws up the usual questions about consultation. I am confident that these changes have emerged through communication and consultation with the industry. Perhaps such consultation could have occurred earlier. I think that it would help us in our deliberations if a record of such consultations were provided with the legislation.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (10.09), in reply: I thank members for their support of this amendment bill. The first thing I would like to say for the record is that the introduction of this bill is not a case of the government coming back and fixing issues that have arisen as a result of some rushed job. Indeed, I do not think anyone could argue that the implementation of the construction occupations licensing legislation was rushed. It was not a rushed piece of legislation. It was a piece of legislation that took several years to develop, in consultation with the industry, but it is by necessity a very complex piece of legislation and obviously the implementation of the legislation has highlighted a number of issues that deserve clarification, which is the point of this amendment bill.

The Construction Occupations Legislation Amendment Bill contains several provisions across a range of building construction areas to clarify and improve the existing legislation. As members have noted, most of these amendments are minor and technical in nature and provide clarity to the legislation. However, the amendments relating to the

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