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NSW building reforms in the works but not everyone is happy

Sydney
Photo by Camille Chen on Unsplash

The NSW government’s building and construction reforms have kicked up a gear with draft regulation to clean up the certification system released on Monday.

The proposed Building and Development Certifiers Regulation 2019 is designed to simplify and strengthen the certification system in New South Wales at a time when certifiers are under increased scrutiny following a spate of high profile apartment evacuations.

Under the proposed regulation, certifiers will need certain qualifications, skills and to be registered, and remain registered. The independence of certifiers will also be improved so it’s easier to know when there’s a conflict of interest.

The roles and responsibilities of certifiers will also be clarified with a Code of Conduct and there will be better consumer protections through strengthened contract requirements for certification work.

“This is a vital piece of law that will be play a significant role in restoring quality, transparency and quality of work in the building and construction industry,” Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation Kevin Anderson said.

The proposed regulation is open for public comment until October 28.

The announcement follows Engineers Australia’s criticism of the government’s reforms over the weekend for falling short on compulsory engineer registration.

The industry body was part of a group of stakeholders given the opportunity to preview the new rules for the state’s building sector, which are set to go to Parliament this year.

Engineers Australia national manager for public affairs Jonathan Russell said that the commitments a will not deliver the comprehensive registration scheme recommended in both the Shergold-Weir report and the Opal Tower report.

He said it’s a missed opportunity to extend engineer registration laws to all sectors, not just apartments.

“The government has a myopic view of the problem. The proposed reforms would suggest that residential apartments are the only problem,” Mr Russell said.

“The process has been rushed, the plan does not address the deeper issues and will result in the current problems being passed on to other parts of the building industry.”

Mr Russell also said the rules are weak on community safety and consumer protection.

The engineering profession is calling for something closer to the Queensland laws, which include a comprehensive registration of engineers.

“It is unacceptable that virtually anyone in NSW will still be able to call themselves an engineer even if they have no relevant education or experience, and no commitment to maintain competency.

“This contrasts with other professionals like architects, doctors and lawyers, who all must be registered before legally providing services.”

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