Page 105 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 25 February 2014

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Construction and Energy Efficiency Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 (No 2)

Debate resumed.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations and Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development) (5.03), in reply: I thank members for their support of this bill. The Construction and Energy Efficiency Legislation Amendment Bill amends a number of pieces of legislation to improve the operation of construction regulation and it helps to create a fairer industry for the benefit of the community and practitioners.

The construction industry does make a viable contribution to the territory economy. There are thousands of people employed in the sector and over 11½ thousand people, partnerships and corporations licensed under the Construction Occupations (Licensing) Act. These licensees construct the variety of buildings we carry out much of our lives in—our homes, schools, hospitals, shops, restaurants, theatres, stadiums, office buildings, hotels—even this Assembly building.

If a building or a building service functions well, we tend not to think about how it has been constructed or installed. We take for granted that lights and heaters turn on with the flick of a switch, that clean water comes out of the tap and that a building is safe and structurally sound and will be built to last. We also take for granted the skills and knowledge of the different occupations that created it.

Most buildings constructed in Canberra function well. I would like to say that all new buildings do so but, unfortunately, this is not the case. As the government’s investigations into building and other construction problems have shown, some practitioners construct buildings or install services that do fail to meet minimum acceptable standards.

When that happens, the experience of that building or service is completely different. Users of the building wonder how it was designed and constructed. They worry that it has defects or safety problems they do not know about as well as the ones that they do, and they question the skills and knowledge of the people that built it and certified it.

Governments regulate building and construction because of the need to protect the public. This does not only mean those people who are directly engaged practitioners. In a recent decision on a matter in the Supreme Court, Master Mossop stated that, given the varying activities conducted by those carrying out construction occupations, the protection of the public can involve a range of things. He went on to say that, in his view, it was also to regulate the quality of their work so as to protect the broader public who have not dealt directly with the person carrying out the construction occupation from the possible consequences of defective or inadequate decisions by that person. This is certainly the intent of our licensing laws and other acts regulating construction work.

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