Speaking of issues of principle, the Government appreciates us, but doesn’t want to meet with us


Over the past couple of months we made two submissions in response to invitations from the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation. Or something anonymously described as the “Regulatory Policy” part of that department. They love anonymity.

The first was a submission on proposed changes to regulation of certifiers by the BPB through the Building and Development Certifiers Bill 2018. We had sought significant changes and discussions with them and encouraged members to make their own submissions supporting our proposed changes and our request to meet. After all, we never meet with these people and they never meet with us. Nothing in the last five years until this year when we were trying to find out what “intelligence” meant when it led to a member being investigated when no-one had complained.

Members responded enthusiastically with more than 100 submissions supporting our proposals and our request to meet. Thank you all for doing so.

But few of our suggestions made it into the Act. And they certainly didn’t want to meet with us.

At some stage they need to come to grips with the reality that we represent more people accredited by the BPB than any other organisation and that rejecting that request was thoughtless at best, and contemptuous at worst. There were 100 submissions, the overwhelming majority, calling for them to meet with us.

They did agree that it made no sense to require a contract between a client and an individual Council employee and that the contractual arrangement should be signed by “the Council”; that it made no sense to impose too much control in smaller organisations to prevent a generalist “certifier” providing other professional services; and that it did make sense to remain “registered” and not “licensed” as they had proposed.

They ignored the overwhelming number of submissions calling for a reduction in the proposed severity of the penalties for knowingly issuing a false certificate, in particular the fine of $10,000 and up two years jail, and our concerns about how to manage the parallel accountability of a Council employee with responsibilities to their employer and, at the same time, also to the BPB. We will keep working on these issues.

What their decision does is reveal an insensitivity to the good management of what they still like to call “certifier” services by councils and a contemptuous attitude to the industry.

In an email from “Regulatory Policy” to everyone who put in a submission we were thanked, and they appreciated our “interest”. Signed by no-one, with no-one identified as being responsible, these people have the luxury of anonymity while they construct hostile regimes for Council employees/certifiers without that protection.

And in an equally impersonal note, on 22 November they thanked us for our submission on the ludicrous options paper “Improving Certifier Independence”, but this time noted that they appreciated our “comments”. On the first submission, they appreciated our interest but clearly not our comments and they certainly didn’t want to talk to us, and on the second submission they clearly appreciated our comments. If that second submission meant that the mysterious “Regulatory Policy” understood what had happened in the past, then it was worthwhile.

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