The Parliament of Victoria’s legislative programme for the last sitting week of this Parliament has now been published and the Building, Planning, Heritage Legislation Amendment (Administration and other matters) Bill 2022, which included alterations to the ARBV, is not listed which means it will not be presented to the Upper House and will consequently lapse. There is a State election on 26 November and should this or similar legislation be presented by the newly elected Government, the legislative process would need to commence again from the beginning, which would at best place it later into next year’s calendar. In that case there would be a fresh opportunity to engage constructively with Government in the drafting of any new Bill.
Amongst the current Bill’s 200 pages of administrative matters were included key changes to the ARBV board, most notably the deletion of the requirement for Architects to be present on the board and for the chair and deputy chair to be appointed by the Minister rather than be elected by the board. These proposed changes would have damaged the integrity of the Architects Act, defied best regulatory practice and indeed common sense, and prevented the board from providing sound consumer protection to Victorians while deleteriously impacting the profession of architecture in Victoria.
That the legislation will lapse is great news and reflective of a huge effort to oppose or amend this Bill. I would like to thank all members who wrote to their local parliamentary representatives, their MLAs, MLCs whether cross benchers, opposition members or government members and also to those who also campaigned for media attention on the issue. The campaign to oppose this legislation was run and intensively lobbied in partnership with the Association of Consulting Architects. Together with the ACA, the Institute held meetings with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (responsible for drafting the legislation) and Parliamentarians including Cross Bencher Mr Rod Barton, MLC and Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council, the Hon. David Davis, MLC. We were not able to secure a meeting with the Minister of Planning, Lizzie Blandthorn to explain the consequences of the proposed legislation but did forward an explanatory letter to the Minister, as well as an extensive follow up letter to DELWP which was copied to the Minister of Planning and the Minister of Consumer Affairs.
In particular, we are very grateful to Mr Rod Barton, MLC for the Eastern Metropolitan Region, who championed the cause in the Legislative Council, advocating on our behalf and introducing amendments to the proposed Bill. Without his advocacy the proposed changes may have passed into law weakening the consumer protections which frame our professional practice.
We are also grateful for the overwhelming support and encouragement we received from our colleagues in the building and construction industry. We all recognised that although some provisions in the Bill deserved support, the ARBV provisions would have seriously weakened our professional standards and diminished the profession’s capacity to contribute to our cities and communities. That the Architects Act will now continue in its current form is the best outcome for both Victorians and the architectural profession of this state.
David Wagner FRAIA
President of Victorian Chapter