Ministers agree to national approach on Building Confidence report

Building Ministers from the federal, state and territory governments have agreed on a national approach to enacting recommendations in the 2018 Building Confidence report which aimed to improve compliance and enforcement systems for the building and construction industry.

The Building Ministers’ Forum, which met in Sydney on 18 July, also agreed to rewrite the strategic plan of the Australian Building Codes Board and expand its membership to include greater representation and engagement from industry, the forum’s communique said.

They also agreed that the states and territories will work toward a coordinated approach to professional indemnity insurance. Officials will write and release a professional indemnity options paper, developed in collaboration between New South Wales and Queensland, followed by consultation with insurers and the building industry.

The forum also said states and territories will maintain responsibility for building and construction matters, while the Commonwealth will continue to assist them. The former will also take responsibility for remediation and rectification.

It follows the Victorian Government’s $600m plan this week to remedy buildings that feature combustible cladding, and create a new agency, Cladding Safety Victoria.

The money will be used for rectification works for what the state government says are hundreds of buildings that feature the high-risk cladding to ensure they are safe and comply with building regulations.

The Victorian Government will also review the Building Act to see what legislative changes might be needed.

Two resolutions about cladding, which passed the National General Assembly last month, will shortly be considered by the ALGA Board.

The first (57), by City of Melbourne, called on the Australian Government to firstly, “recognise the national significance of the financial implications of cladding rectifications for building owners” and secondly, to “establish a rectification relief fund, providing access to grants and low or interest-free loans to expedite unsafe cladding removal.”

The second (57.1) by Blacktown City Council (NSW) called on the states and Commonwealth Government to provide a national regulatory approach “with workable methodologies to address the fire risks posed by combustible external cladding and the use of non-conforming building products on certain types of buildings.”