Page 1289 - Week 05 - Thursday, 31 May 2007

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Amendments are being made to the Construction Occupations (Licensing) Act 2004 to make clear that certain matters do not stop the issuing of rectification orders requiring the rectification of unlawful and substandard construction work or other services. These amendments are necessary to address an issue raised by the recent decision of the Supreme Court of the ACT in the case of the ACT Construction Occupations Registrar v John Tokic. In that case, the Supreme Court held that the registrar could not take any rectification order action against a breach of the Building Act so long as a certificate of compliance, such as a certificate of occupancy under the Building Act, remained valid. The effect of the judgment was that unlawful building work could not be made the subject of a rectification order while the certificate of occupancy for the work was in force.

The court’s judgment has significant unintended consequences. An example is where the work that is subject to a rectification order is defective concrete in some columns supporting part of a high-rise office building and the nature of the defect is that the columns are currently structurally sound but, in the long term, corrosion of their steel reinforcement will render the building structurally unsound. If a certificate of occupancy for the building has been issued under the Building Act, then, in accordance with the Tokic decision, that certificate must first be withdrawn in order to issue a rectification order for the columns’ long-term rectification. However, under the Building Act, it is unlawful to occupy or use a building without a certificate under that part. In that case the currently sound building would be rendered unlawful to occupy or use merely to permit rectification of the building’s defective but currently sound columns.

Mr Speaker, this is clearly an unnecessary impost on the building’s occupants and owner when it is safe to continue to occupy the building whilst the columns are being rectified, particularly considering the rectification could take weeks. The proposed amendments seek to provide a practical means of ensuring rectification work occurs whilst not unnecessarily burdening the building occupants or owner.

Finally, I draw members’ attention to the bill’s explanatory statement, which provides a detailed explanation of the proposed amendments. I look forward to the upcoming debate on the government’s legislative package to bring into operation the territory’s new planning system.

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

Surveyors Bill 2007

Mr Barr, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR BARR (Molonglo—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Planning, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation, Minister for Industrial Relations) (12.30): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

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