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Non-compliance targeted in the building industry

5 February 2019

Key talks about non-compliance in Australia’s building industry will be held at this week’s Building Ministers’ Forum, chaired by the Australian Government, following a fire at the Spencer Street high-rise apartment building in Melbourne.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said the Melbourne fire and emergency events concerning the Opal Tower in Sydney, emphasise the need for all governments to focus on restoring the community’s confidence in the safety and quality of Australian buildings.

"Public safety is always the top priority when it comes to building regulation, and our compliance and enforcement systems need to be very robust," Minister Andrews said.

“While I am relieved residents at the Spencer Street high-rise apartment building were safely evacuated, I recognise the impacts these events have on residents, owners and the wider Australian community."

It appears at this early stage the Neo200 building in Melbourne was compliant with the National Construction Code. Minister Andrews said similar issues were often symptoms of the short-comings with the compliance and enforcement of regulatory systems in the building and construction industry.

“I will be raising this matter at the upcoming Building Ministers’ Forum in Hobart on Friday and seek a commitment from the states and territories to redouble their efforts to implement the regulatory reforms, proposed by the Building Ministers’ Forum’s Building Confidence report.

“While all jurisdictions are implementing reforms at their own pace, I will be seeking renewed commitment from State and Territory building Ministers to work together towards a more efficient and effective regulatory environment, particularly in those areas where national consistency is paramount.

“I am also disappointed to see comments from the Victorian Planning Minister in his crusade against taking responsibility for what is a state and territory legislative matter.

“These are important issues of community safety and confidence in our building sector which must rise above any attempts to politicise these matters.”

The Building Ministers’ Forum commissioned the report in 2017, in the wake of local and overseas fire events, to examine the compliance and enforcement problems that undermine the safety of our built environment.

The Building Confidence report provides the states and territories with a roadmap for reforming their regulatory systems, and for improving the culture of compliance within the building and construction sector.

The Building Ministers’ Forum will also note the 2019 edition of the National Construction Code, released on 1 February 2019.

The 2019 version includes new standards for fire sprinklers in multi-storey residential buildings and a new tool to help design fire safety systems.

“National Construction Code 2019 is a big step forward to ensure building safety standards remain current,” Minister Andrews said.

Media contact: Minister Andrews' office 02 6277 7070