Vic: ACCC Commissioner to Head New Building Cop

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Monday, August 26th, 2013
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A former commissioner from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has been chosen to lead the new regulator for the building and construction industry regulator in Victoria.

But a key industry group, while not criticising the latest appointment specifically, has reiterated overall concern about a dearth of building industry experience within the new regulator’s leadership team.

In the latest announcement, Victorian Minister for Planning Matthew Guy said former ACCC Commissioner Joe Dimasi has been appointed the chief executive officer of the new Victorian Building Authority (VBA) which came into effect on July 1 this year.

Guy says Dimasi, who became a Commissioner with the ACCC in 2008 after having served as head of the Commission’s Regulatory Affairs division since 1996, will bring important experience to the role.

“The experience that Mr Dimasi will bring with him from the ACCC and his previous government roles will ensure strong regulatory foundations, a consumer focus and operational leadership for the new VBA,” Guy says.

Dimasi’s appointment comes amid significant upheaval in building industry regulation throughout the state.

Under sweeping changes announced by the government in May, the former Building Commission was dumped in favour of the new VBA, which the government says will provide a one stop shop for builder practitioner registration and discipline, supervision of building permits, advice to domestic building consumers and inspectors who will make rulings on disputes.

Other changes include an overhaul of building practitioner registration requirements, new disciplinary sanctions and an overhaul of the building permit system.

While the government says the changes will deliver better consumer protection and faster dispute resolution, at least one industry leader has expressed concerns about their impact on the industry.

Earlier this month, Housing Industry Association regional executive director for Victoria Gil King lashed out at the reform process, saying changes were introduced without genuine industry consultation and that the new measures not only impose significant cost on builders but go beyond what was necessary to fix problems.

Indeed, while stressing his comments are not directed at individuals, King bemoans what he describes as a lack of building industry experience on the new VBA board and executive team.

“HIA is certain Mr Dimasi is well credentialed and we make no comment on any individual’s appointment” King says. “However, we are yet to see the appointment of any person with building industry experience to a leadership position at the Victorian Building Authority.”

“What we do see is a preponderance for consumer protection backgrounds. We anxiously wait for this imbalance to be corrected. One has to question what benefit it is to those consumers dealing with the vast majority of excellent building professionals to have the regulator so void of practical industry experience and knowledge.”

Apart from his time at the ACCC, Dimasi has served as a senior economist in Victorian Government departments including Treasury, Premier and Cabinet, and Business.

He will commence with the VBA on September 9.

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