Page 2160 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 2 August 2016

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Amendments in the bill allow the Construction Occupations Registrar to consider the compliance history not only of those people who have held a licence in their own right but of the directors and partners associated with an applicant of other licence holders. If it is necessary or desirable to protect the public, the registrar may refuse to issue or renew a licence.

Similarly, when the ACAT is considering an application for an occupational discipline order, it can consider whether there are other related licences that should also be subject to a disciplinary condition, suspension or cancellation. This means that if licensees, directors or partners are associated with more than one licence and their actions under one licence are relevant to the operations or likely compliance of another licence, the ACAT can take the appropriate action.

It is also important that licensees maintain their eligibility to hold a licence during the whole time that they are licensed. The bill will amend the Building Act 2004 to ensure that disciplinary action can be taken when a person loses their eligibility.

Licensees will also need to report changes to their circumstances sooner, and changes to automatic and intermediate suspensions will help to prevent people operating under a licence when they are not eligible or an application for a serious disciplinary action has been made but not yet decided. These amendments will help the licensing system work as intended so that only those people who take their obligations as a licensee seriously and have the skills and capacity to fulfil them can hold or use a licence.

Nothing in this bill takes away any existing review or appeal rights for decisions about licence applications or disciplinary actions. The bill preserves the common law protections for client legal privilege and against self-incrimination.

This bill also establishes the framework for further reforms in the government’s building regulatory reform program. In particular, the bill will add new powers to provide for standard conditions, prohibited conditions and information that must be provided with the contract for certain contracts involving residential building work; it will expand the existing power to make a code of practice for building work to include building certification; and it will include a new capacity for guidelines to be made for documents, plans and specifications, such as those that must be part of a building approval application.

In relation to codes and guidelines, these will help to establish minimum practice standards for people preparing building approval documentation, as well as for licensed builders and building certifiers. These reforms received a very high level of support from the community and interested participants during consultation.

Regulating aspects of contracts is new ground for the Building Act. At present, it has only two provisions that regulate contracts for contracting, one to give a statutory warranty in certain contracts and the other to prevent contracting out of obligations under the act.

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