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Inquiry targets building industry regulation

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A NSW parliamentary committee will examine insurance arrangements as part of an inquiry into the troubled building industry, with plans to produce a final report by February.

The upper house inquiry into the regulation of building standards, building quality and building disputes launched last week.

Limitations on building insurance and compensation schemes, and consumer protections for new apartment owners are among subjects listed in the terms of reference.

The Public Accountability Committee, which is heading the inquiry, will also look at the role of private certification and strata committees’ responsiveness to building defects.

Defects in Mascot Towers and Opal Tower, which led to the evacuation of residents, and flammable cladding in the state’s buildings are also on the agenda.

“The committee is deeply concerned about the forced evacuation of residents following substantial building defects being found in the Mascot and Opal tower buildings,” committee chairman David Shoebridge said.

“With an increase [in the number] of high-rise apartments, particularly in the Sydney region, it is extremely important that the NSW Government has adequate regulation and oversight of the building industry, including appropriate consumer protection, and is responding to building defects in a timely and effective manner.”

The Insurance Council of Australia says it “looks forward to engaging in the process, making submissions as required and supporting with industry knowledge and advice”.

Builders Collective of Australia President Phil Dwyer, who has pushed for a royal commission on the building industry, expects this inquiry, like many previous ones, will do little to fix the sector.

“It’s just terribly disappointing that we keep going down this path,” he told insuranceNEWS.com.au. “We need to fix the industry.

“We’ve had so many of them in the past and none of them have done anything, so no, I don’t see this inquiry doing anything at all.

“We need wholesale reforms to cover all areas. There’s no point in fiddling at the edges.”

The committee will hold hearings next month and launch an online questionnaire for community feedback. The closing date for submissions is July 28.

For details, click here.