The Victorian Building Authority will take control of building practitioner registration and discipline, whilst new processes for building practitioner discipline and a prohibition on builders appointing private surveyors will come into play under new changes which will impact building industry regulation practices in Victoria.

The new rules are the second tranche of two tranches of changes designed to improve regulation within the state, following earlier changes which came into effect on July 4. The earlier set of rules saw builders and architects specifically prohibited from performing building work without a permit, greater powers being given to the Victoria Building Authority to inspect documentation, and work being done by owner builders and building surveyors being specifically prohibited from acting in any positions in which they would have a conflict of interest.

Set to come into effect on September 1, the new changes will see the abolition of the Building Practitioners Board and responsibility of with regard to practitioner disciplinary proceedings transferred to the Victoria Building Authority.

With the new arrangements will come a new disciplinary process whereby the VBA will issue a ‘show cause’ notice where it believes grounds for disciplinary action exists and the onus will be on the practitioner to argue his or her case as to why the proposed action should not indeed be taken.

Any practitioners who have their registration suspended or cancelled, meanwhile, will have the option of seeking an internal review of that decision from a senior VBA officer before going to the Victorian Civil Appeals Tribunal – a move designed to give affected practitioners the opportunity to access fast and inexpensive means of review in light of the gravity of the impact of decisions of this nature from the practitioner’s viewpoint.

Other changes will see the move to a new five-year period for registration, the introduction of a new ‘fit and proper person test’ during the registration process, the ability of practitioners to surrender their registration upon leaving the industry (as opposed to having to have the registration cancelled or suspended) and the gradual introduction of a mandatory requirement for continuing professional development.

The new changes come amid considerable criticism with regard to the current system of building industry regulation in Victoria, which critics charge does not hold practitioners adequately accountable and fails to adequately protect consumers.

Various reports by the Victorian Auditor General’s Office and the Victorian Ombudsman have panned building practitioner registration as not being adequate to ensure that those who are registered are suitably qualified and competent in order to adequately discharge their responsibilities.

  • It's really time for national leadership in raising Australia's construction qualifications and compliance standards. And it's really time to move away from a one size fits all approach. As long as a minimum standards culture remains the benchmark, then minimum standards will be the benchmark. That is not a setting which rewards the best players and it fails to set a bar which could position Australian construction to be a leader in the modern construction movement now obvious in a global market. While ever Australia's construction industry remains fragmented by state and territory differences our industry will progressively be consigned to low value add, low productivity and adhoc innovation.
    The global construction evolution towards a digital and industrialised future gathers pace. Until our domestic industry grasps that putting the customer first in charting its future, then only calamity awaits. The pieces and parts are now coming from every global jurisdiction and in a global context Australian construction volumes are modest at best. We will not be in a position to dictate standards and qualifications in that context, especially if state based. That horse has bolted.
    A pressing challenge for the industry is facilitating off-site (increasingly off-shore) payments for construction work done elsewhere. The industry will need a different attitude and mechanisms to tackle this problem. It will involve one that embraces the sum of the parts of a project, not just the parts and how those parts can write themselves a limited liability which is meaningless to construction's customers. There are ways forward that do not require the whole of the industry to change first. But it requires collaborative national leadership.

  • Once again these are meaningless changes – more of 'shifting deck chairs on the Titanic', more of the façade of pretense behind which the same old 'strategy' remains unaltered. Now called 'tranches' of change, beneath the façade of spin the building industry operates just as it always has done – the building fraternity fully protected and consumers utterly unprotected. First, all who should not be registered remain registered. Second, consider that in 2014-2015, of 22,000 building practitioners, a minute 94 were called to an Inquiry (VBA Annual Report 2014-2015) – this is the 'new' VBA's appalling record, one revealing almost zero commitment to 'discipline'. Beyond a joke! And then as Andrew points out most of these go to VCAT and have the penalty reduced or overturned!

    Imagine the VBA's performance and then imagine putting the VBA in charge of 'registration' and 'discipline' – as the successor to the Building Commission there has been no change in the culture of officials and demonstrably no change to the near to zero enforcement action. No accountability continues for both the industry and its 'regulator' whilst millions of consumers are the much-at-risk cash cows. I agree with David that we need a national response, but this requires the political will to clean up the industry and the governance culture. "Putting consumers first" as David says is the only way forward for our owner victims – and for our buildings. As for calamity awaiting, it has been with us at 'disaster' level for the last 10 years, with Australian consumers paying the price – defrauded of their savings and most shockingly paying with their lives. The Government and bureaucracy have the scandalous statistics, but have buried the truth.

  • They really mucked up. The new rules state that only the land owner can appoint a surveyor. The old rules were an entitled person. Reading the rules means that contracts that are signed prior to land release will have surveyors appointed by the land developer!

    Nobody saw that one coming!!!!!!!!!

Allegion – 300 x 250 (expire Aug 30 2018)