That’s not a monumental step, this is a monumental step

When NSW Better Regulation Minister Kevin Anderson announced the Design and Building Practitioners Bill last week he said it was a “monumental step in the reform of the building and construction industry”.

Oh, please, no it isn’t. Many critics responded that it was more likely the first step of 100 necessary to restore confidence but a monumental step would have been rolling back the option for a developer to pay their own certifier and restoring building and development control solely to local government.

The Minister’s announcement entirely ignores the steps that could be taken to ensure that buildings are built properly - right from the moment construction begins - that there can be proper inspection and control all the way through the construction, that there can be on-site quality control people like the old-fashioned clerk-of-works, and that a properly resourced and massively funded Building Commission could make sure it all worked.

Ignoring the construction and focusing on the potential that at some stage in the future, consumers who have bought something that turns out to be flawed or requiring remedial action or falls down, will have a range of people against whom they can initiate legal action doesn’t really help.

Interestingly, while legal action can be taken against a range of “building practitioners”, they don’t include the developer, who escapes (again) unscathed.

When the Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced on 10 July that private certification “hasn’t worked” and conceded “there’s a gap in legislation. We allowed the industry to self-regulate and it hasn’t worked. There are too many challenges, too many problems and that’s why the government is willing to legislate”, she could have done something about the adequacy of construction so that at the time someone buys a property, or an apartment, there can be absolute certainty about the quality of its construction and whoever built it, fixes it. But she didn’t. The developers win again.

More a monumental fail, than a monumental step.

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