The board of Victoria’s building regulator has been scrapped as the Victorian Government seeks to address concerns with the regulator’s culture and performance.

Victorian Planning Minister Sonya Kilkenny has announced an overhaul of governance arrangements for the Victorian Building Authority (VBA).

Under the changes, the current board of the regulator has been scrapped.

As a result, six board members – Simon Weir, Justin Madden, Murray Coleman, Gillian Sparkes, Thi Thu Trang Tran and Kelly Humphreys – have stepped down six months before their current term ends in September.

Instead, the current CEO Anne Cronin has been appointed as the Commissioner to run the body.

Cronin will report directly to Kilkenny as Planning Minister.

She will be supported by two high level expert advisory committees – one for building and one for plumbing.

The latest moves come as the VBA has been dogged by controversy over recent years.

Last year, it was charged with two counts of breaching the Occupational Health and Safety Act following the 2022 suicide of inspector Rob Karkut, who had been a VBA inspector for sixteen years.

The tragedy unveiled revelations that VBA inspectors had been under intense pressure to meet unrealistic deadlines and had resorted to performing investigations by iPhone.

The announcement also comes as Victoria is undergoing a program of reform though the work of an expert panel which is conducting a three-stage review of the state’s building regulation system.

In addition, the state is undertaking a review of its Domestic Building Cotracts Act to ensure that the Act delivers adequate consumer protection.

Bronwyn Weir, a long-standing expert in building regulation who co-authored the Building Confidence Report for the Building Ministers Meeting at a national level in 2018, welcomed the latest announcement.

But she added that further action is needed to improve building regulation across the state.

“Looks like the Victorian Government is making progress on determining what it will do to improve to the regulation of building and construction in Victoria,” Weir said.

“Getting the governance right for the regulator is important but more important is the need for major reforms and funding to improve accountability and to give the VBA the powers and resources they need to effectively regulate the industry, particularly the apartment sector.

“We need a regulator that has the authorising environment to have a presence on sites during construction so it can order developers to rectify problems before the buildings are signed off and handed over to apartment purchasers. The regulator will also need powers and resources to address the legacy by helping existing apartment owners who are impacted by slow legal processes and costs trying to get defective apartment buildings rectified.

“If this is a first step toward these changes then good but I hope the rest will follow quickly.”

Michaela Lihou, CEO of Master Builders Victoria (MBV), welcomed Cronin’s appointment as Commissioner.

Lihou said that any actions which further strengthen the role and rigour of Victoria’s building regulator to provide industry certainty and consumer confidence are encouraged.

“The building and construction industry faces significant challenges as we attempt to deliver on some much needed and ambitious housing targets” she said.

“MBV looks forward to working with the VBA on its reform agenda to ensure our industry has a trusted, effective and efficient regulator.”


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