Tasmanian Policy and Advocacy Update

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Image: Nina Hamilton

Requests for tenders and expressions of interest – Architectural procurement

The Chapter continues to be alerted by members to RFTs and EOIs that contain clauses that don’t comply with the Institute’s guidelines and are unreasonable and unfair. This has resulted in numerous discussions and meetings with different levels of government and government agencies. This will continue to be an ongoing process as we advocate for the value of the profession and for fair and equitable procurement processes that result in the best possible outcome for architects, clients and the broader public.

As part of these efforts, the Chapter worked with the Burnie City Council regarding the consultant selection process and services brief discussions on the North West Museum and Art Gallery (NWMAG). This is a significant project in a regional city and we are very happy to see local practice Terrior secure another opportunity to make a significant contribution to the North West Coast. These conversations have set up a longer-term discussion and opportunities for engaging with a number of regional councils in this part of our state in regard to their procurement protocols and systems.

The Chapter is continuously thankful to members who are contacting us regarding these issues and assisting in responding to them in a positive and constructive manner. It is important for the Institute to support and assist these often-stretched organisations when procuring so that the best architectural results can be achieved for these important community projects.

Architectural consultant contracts

Recent trends indicate that governments and major clients continue to tinker with procurement processes, including consultant contracts, shifting more risk on the principal consultant, which in turn is confusing members’ insurance coverage. These contracts have been reviewed by members’ insurers and they result in the architect being uninsurable if the contract is signed with these clauses. This not only results in a high level of risk for the architect, but for the client as well. The Chapter is discussing this issue on a number of levels, including with the Minister for Building and Construction, the Hon Elise Archer MP and this will be an ongoing conversation.

ABIC contracts

Members are facing a number of issues when administering contracts due to changes to the Director’s Determination (Residential Building Work Contracts and Dispute Resolution Act 2016: Director’s Determination – Mandatory Contract Provisions) that specify staged payments at pre-determined points, rather than regular monthly progress payments that are typically assessed by architects.

This is causing issues for builders (particularly smaller builders) in regard to their cash flow, as the pre-determined staged payments are relatively large percentages of the work. The Chapter has raised this issue with the Director of Building Control, Peter Graham, who has indicated that this is an issue that could be addressed via amendments to the Director’s Determination, and we are in the process of working with him regarding this.

Open House Hobart and Launceston

The Chapter-run Open House Hobart and Launceston programs form a key part of our education and advocacy program, enabling the public to learn about architecture through experiencing it. In the words of Tasmanian Chapter President Shamus Mulcahy, ‘it is stealth advocacy at its finest!’

Open House is now attracting the attention of councils and governments – once we were knocking on their doors, and now they are banging down ours to be involved. We had a couple of wonderful weekends sharing the value of architecture with the public, allowing them to experience architecture first-hand. The Open House Hobart weekend saw 20, 525 visits to buildings over the Saturday and Sunday, and a further 789 attend events (including exhibitions and talks) as part of the wider program. Open House Launceston saw 3641 attendances at buildings, walking tours, exhibitions, talks and events. This equated to a total of 24,955 visits over the entirety of the program.