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Ministers agree to act on PI impasse

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A consultation on professional indemnity (PI) insurance is expected in coming weeks after the Building Ministers’ Forum in Sydney last week agreed on a co-ordinated response to the impasse in the troubled construction industry.

Federal Industry Minister Karen Andrews and her state counterparts also agreed to take up all 24 suggestions in the Shergold-Weir report on improving compliance and enforcement of building codes.

NSW and Queensland will oversee the action plan, which will involve a PI options paper on alternative insurance options and a pathway for professional standards.

Outcomes from the consultation will be submitted by September to the forum, which will next meet in December.

The near-collapse of the PI market for certifiers and surveyors, triggered by the withdrawal of exemption-free covers, was among key issues discussed at the meeting in Sydney.

Insurance Council of Australia CEO Rob Whelan, who attended the meeting, has called for swift action to restore confidence in the building sector.

He has also proposed a formal role for the insurance industry as a permanent member of the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB), which has been tasked with overseeing implementation of the Shergold-Weir report.

Representation on the board will ensure insurance perspectives are heard, he says.

“Though [last week’s] agreement is generally positive, insurers remain concerned any delays in implementing the Shergold-Weir recommendations and action being taken by the ABCB will further undermine public and industry confidence in the construction sector,” he said.

“ICA is willing to engage with governments and regulatory authorities to ensure the restoration of confidence and stability in the construction industry is achieved as soon as possible.”

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