Safety and compliance top of Building Ministers' agenda

Published: 21 February 2019

The Building Ministers' Forum (BMF) met in Hobart earlier this month to discuss a variety of issues facing the Australian building industry. Much of the focus was on recent incidents at Opal Tower in Sydney and the Neo200 building in Melbourne in particular the impact on residents, owners and the Australian community.

In a communique following the meeting, Ministers 'reaffirmed their commitment' to a joint response to the Shergold-Wier Building Confidence report, which outlines 24 recommendations aimed at reforming the building compliance and enforcement regime. 

Recommendations covered a range of compliance issues including the registration and training of practitioners, the roles and responsibilities of regulators, the collection and sharing of building information, the adequacy of documentation and record keeping, inspection regimes, post-construction information management and building product safety.

Preceding their meeting, building ministers hosted an industry roundtable, which the AMCA attended alongside other industry colleagues. Broadly speaking, all industry representatives were keen to see more information on the implementation plan for the recommendations and encouraged the Ministers to ensure a consistent approach by state and territory governments and regulators. 

Ministers also agreed to strengthen enforcement around the use of Aluminium Composite Panels through a national ban in new construction, and discussed the role of building ministers in progressing the COAG Energy Council's commitment to a trajectory for low energy buildings.

The Trajectory for Low Energy Buildings identifies opportunities for the building sector to implement cost effective increases to the energy efficiency provisions in the National Construction Code (NCC) for residential and commercial buildings from 2022. 

As the Ministers responsible for overseeing the National Construction Code, the BMF instructed the Australian Building Codes Board to provide a 'holistic view' of current energy efficiency provisions in the National Construction Code and potential regulatory impacts in different jurisdictions, as well as advice on delivery in collaboration with industry.

The staged approach to implementation is supported by the AMCA as it offers increased certainty for the construction industry.