Building products compliance is gaining increasing attention with news of a safety recall by the ACCC earlier this year and an Australian Industry Group report on the ‘non- conforming building products dilemma’ published late last year. The Institute has been involved in recent developments aimed at addressing this issue. We participated in the development of the Australasian Procurement and Construction Council’s (APCC) report ‘Procurement of Construction Products – A Guide to achieving compliance’ launched in September, and late November I attended a meeting hosted by the Hon Bob Baldwin, MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry to discuss this issue. Representatives from across the construction industry participated in the discussion and it is anticipated that with further industry input, an action strategy to stop unsafe practices will be developed. I will keep members informed as this matter progresses.
Mr Baldwin MP, also recently launched Building Information Models (BIM) Guidelines ‘Framework for the Adoption of Project Team Integration and Building Information Modelling’, jointly developed by the APCC and the Australian Construction Industry Forum (ACIF).
Recently ACIF also released their latest industry forecast, projected out to ten years across the residential, non-residential and engineering construction sectors. The latest forecasts indicate that despite the decline in engineering construction activity in the medium term, Australia-wide construction expenditure is set to remain at levels higher than historical average. Peter Barda, the Executive Director of ACIF said ‘In terms of total construction activity, NSW has had strong growth over the past six months, and is predicted to overtake Queensland as the state with the most construction spending by 2016-17. Residential spending in NSW is projected to be particularly strong whilst engineering construction declined in Queensland, leading to this shift in spending profile’. Total spending in 2013/14 reached $233 billion with the outlook for 2014/15 remaining essentially unchanged at $228 billion, with the biggest change ‘in the residential sector, residential building is already spending to meet a backlog of pent up demand, which is arising from historically low interest rates and increased foreign demand’.
I recently attended a Parliamentary Friendship Group for Better Cities (PFGBC) event at Parliament House. Co-convened by representatives from the major political parties: Mrs Jane Prentice, MP, Member for Ryan; Mr Andrew Giles, MP, Member for Scullin; and Mr Adam Bandt, MP, Member for Melbourne the mission statement for the PFGBC is to work together to make Australia’s capital and major cities more liveable, more resilient and more productive. Membership of the group spans a cross section of built environment industry and professional groups including transport organisations. The event was attended by several politicians and advisers, as well as industry representatives. Lucy Turnbull AO was keynote speaker and delivered an address on the topic of ‘The Land and Housing Challenge – Making our Cities Liveable, Affordable and Efficient – the Federal Government’s Role’.
Before I go, I wonder if I might call on you to let any international friends in the profession know that entries for our 2015 Droga Residency close 23 January. This is an incredible opportunity for prominent architects to engage with the Australian public and architectural community through a program that includes a defined and self-directed architectural research by design project, as well as seminars, exhibitions and events.
Wishing you a joyful Christmas break and a happy and prosperous New Year.