Cowboy Victorian developers who do building work without a permit could get five years in jail and almost half a million dollars in fines.
But the new penalties comes too late to punish the developers who sparked outrage when they knocked down the 160-year-old Corkman Hotel in Carlton in October.
That illegal demolition forced the government into introducing new offences and fines for illegal building and demolition work.
"This is of course as a result of the cowboy developers at the Corkman Hotel who illegally demolished the hotel without any demolition permit, and indeed without any planning permit in place," Planning Minister Richard Wynne told reporters on Tuesday.
Anyone who orders or carries out building work without a permit could be jailed for up to five years, face an individual fine of $93,276, and a corporate fine of $466,380.
That's on top of any other fines that could be levied through other means, including building and environmental authorities.
Mr Wynne said the penalties were in line with those for doing illegal work on heritage-listed buildings.
Courts will also have the power to intervene and prevent any building work that contravenes the Building Act.
That could include halting building or demolition work, requiring rectification works or a rebuild, or stopping someone operating as a building practitioner.
Mr Wynne said the government and the City of Melbourne was at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal trying to get an order forcing the developers to rebuild the demolished pub.
Opposition planning spokesman David Davis strongly supported the changes.
"Irresponsible developers should not be able to thumb their nose at the law and at the community," Mr Davis said.