Uh oh, the Building Commissioner is concluding the investigation into certifiers at nine councils …


On 25 August the NSW Building Commissioner David Chandler OAM, and Matt Press, Executive Director, Compliance Dispute Resolution spoke at a UDIA lunch. They reported on progress to date and the way ahead. After a well-publicised resignation, the Building Commissioner has renewed his employment and commitment to the cleaning up of the building industry. That's a good thing. We like him, he's a goer.

We had an informal meeting with the Commissioner and LGNSW CEO Scott Phillips months ago when the Building Commissioner told us they were about to commence an audit of a number of councils. We discussed this, and our view that if there are problems found, they will reflect inadequate resourcing or support, rather than anything like the sort of things detected for private certifiers. We talked about clause 9(i) of the State Award and the obligation on the employer to provide adequate staff and other resources, but also the reluctance of employees in the industry to call for help when under the pump.

In the presentation to the developers’ lunch, a slide headed "Certifier Program - Private vs Council" compared 11 certifiers and 9 councils. For councils there were 21 developments, 31 CCs and 26 OCs audited (in an audit still being conducted) and they had identified "85 Non-Compliances" to date. That's a lot, and in the traffic light system that they used to identify good, bad and indifferent, 16 developments identified as RED, two were identified as AMBER and only four were identified as GREEN.

Here is a link to the presentation and the relevant page containing this information is page 5.

No one really knew the implications of accreditation by Fair Trading and the BPB before it (as opposed to the significant legal evidence and cases available to justify the Civil Liability Allowance for engineers) and we have had a succession of State Awards where we have included a reference to this in the Leave Reserved clause until such time as we had some evidence of what that additional level of accountability meant. Clause 45 (vi) provides:

Leave is reserved for the parties to apply to vary the Award consistent with the principles of the Industrial Relations Commission of New South Wales in relation to the accreditation of employees by the Building Professionals Board.

We didn't know there were nine councils, and we don't know when the report will be released, and we will chase up the Building Commission to get this information. If you work at one of the nine councils and you have been having an audit, can you please let us know?

The number of non-compliances so far in OCs and CCs does not look encouraging.

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