Property Australia

Strengthening building regulation compliance and enforcement

Ken Morrison Ken Morrison August 19, 2019

For people in our industry who are committed to delivering high quality, great projects that meet the expectations of their customers and communities, tonight’s 4 Corners on ABC TV is likely to make for some depressing viewing.

Our homes should be places of security and comfort and there are clearly some apartment owners and tenants who have been let down by poor quality work which has caused them emotional and financial distress.

The overwhelming majority of people in our industry do the right thing and there are many great quality projects right across our cities.

There’s a lot we can be proud of, but we also don’t run away from the issues that need to be addressed. This includes dealing with the minority of people in the industry who don’t do the right thing by building regulations or their customers.

People who cut corners on building regulations should have no place in our industry.

That’s why our industry has been calling for the Commonwealth, state and territory governments to take collective and uniform action on the 24 recommendations contained in the Shergold Weir report on building compliance and confidence. [add link] This report was commissioned by the country’s building ministers and was delivered to them some 18 months ago.

These recommendations are the blueprint for reform and primarily focus on the need to strengthen enforcement and compliance with building standards and improve public confidence in the quality of our built environment.

The report finds that Australia’s building codes are comprehensive and stringent, and world’s best practice in many respects. Failures have arisen due to poor compliance and enforcement, and the inconsistent approach taken by state and territory governments.

When building ministers from across the country met in Sydney one month ago, they all committed to a national approach to implementation of the Shergold Weir reforms.

This was a welcome if overdue step, and followed strong advocacy by the Property Council and other leading industry bodies. (Unfortunately, ministers didn’t agree to a consistent approach to the issue of combustible cladding which needs to be addressed as a matter of priority.)

It’s important for everyone – for the industry and for the community – that governments get on and implement the Shergold Weir reforms without any further delay.

When I was interviewed for the 4 Corners story, I was asked whether I would buy a new apartment given all of the coverage about building defects. I said: “I would, absolutely. I think I would be a discerning buyer looking for quality, but absolutely I would.”