Tasmania is set to follow Victoria and Queensland in undertaking a review its framework for regulation of the building and construction industry, the state’s government has announced.
Last week, Minister for Workplace Relations David O’Byrne announced that the state’s Building Regulatory Advisory Committee would conduct a ‘systematic and complete review’ of the Tasmanian Building Regulatory Framework.
O’Byrne said even as other jurisdictions around the country had enacted changes, Tasmania's regulatory framework for building and construction had remained virtually unchanged since being set up based upon model legislation developed in the 1990s following the inception of the Building Code of Australia.
“Buildings must be designed, constructed and maintained in a way that meets minimum safety standards, delivers community and consumer expectations of performance and sustainability, and contributes to the State’s economy,” O’Byrne said. “The quality, safety and cost of building work is heavily influenced by the States building regulatory framework and prescribed building standards. Therefore, efficiency of building regulation is vital to ensure an efficient industry.”
Though few details regarding the scope of the review were given, O’Byrne hints the review and subsequent changes may follow those enacted last year in Victoria, which he says enacted a very similar framework to Tasmania in the 1990s.
Victoria’s changes, however – which saw the abolition of the former Building Commission and creation of the new Victoria Building Authority (VBA) as well as an expansion of domestic building insurance, an overhaul of eligibility requirements for building practitioner registration, new disciplinary sanctions, an overhaul of the building permits system and creation of a public register for disciplinary action – have proven to be deeply unpopular, with consumer advocates saying they do little to address genuine concerns and industry representatives saying they go beyond what is necessary and create further uncertainty and compliance work for builders.
Indeed, chaos within the new regulator in that state was underscored when the chief executive of the new VBA Joe Dimassi resigned after only nine weeks in the role.
By contrast, a 10-point plan to overhaul building practitioner regulation in Queensland unveiled late last year received a much warmer reception as the need for change was widely acknowledged within the industry.
The latest announcement in Tasmania also comes amid government efforts to lift sluggish building activity in that state, including a doubling of the state’s first home builders grant and new grants as well as new grants to encourage significant dollar value infrastructure projects.
Consultation regarding the review will commence with the release of an issues paper in the early part of this year. This will be followed by a discussion paper containing recommendations later in the year.
The government also plans to set up technical advisory groups for building practitioners and local government as well as an industry reference group and a consumer based advisory process.