Brought to you by:

Probe uncovers ‘significant’ construction industry failings

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google

An assessment of Australia’s compliance and enforcement systems for the building and construction industry has delivered a damning verdict.

The study, by Western Sydney University Chancellor Peter Shergold and experienced lawyer Bronwyn Weir, was commissioned by the Building Ministers’ Forum following London’s Grenfell Tower disaster last year.

More than 70 people died when fire ripped through flammable cladding on the outside of the building, and similar materials have been widely used in Australian cities.

The report focuses on shortcomings in implementation of the National Construction Code, and makes 24 recommendations for improvement.

It notes a range of “significant and concerning” issues including non-compliant cladding, water ingress, unsound roofs and poorly constructed fire-resisting elements.

“The problems have led to diminishing public confidence that the building and construction industry can deliver compliant, safe buildings that will perform to expected standards over the long term,” the report says.

It notes concerns that “large numbers of practitioners” are incompetent, do not understand the code and have never been properly trained.

Oversight by licensing bodies, state and territory regulators and local governments is weak, and enforcement is hampered by a lack of skills and resources.

“Those involved in high-rise construction have been left largely to their own devices,” the report says. “Where there has been supervision, this has generally been by private building surveyors, whom critics argue are not independent from builders and/or designers.”

The report says compliance and enforcement systems need to change “as a matter of priority”, but warns there is no “silver bullet” and proposed changes could take three years to implement.

The construction industry must also play its part in lifting standards, the report says.

The recommendations cover issues such as the registration and training of building practitioners, increasing enforcement powers, greater involvement of fire authorities and a code of conduct for building surveyors. To read the full report, click here.