NSW Policy and Advocacy Update

Building regulation reform

NSW Chapter President Kathlyn Loseby FRAIA continues to lead initiatives to engage in the NSW government planning and building reform agenda through the coordination of a “Building Stakeholder Group” which includes Engineers Australia, Owners Corporation Network, Association of Accredited Certifiers, Association of Consulting Architects, Consult Australia, Master Builders Association of NSW, and Fire Protection Association Australia.

On 23 October 2019 the NSW government introduced the Design and Building Practitioners Bill 2019 into the Legislative Assembly. The Bill forms part of the NSW Government’s expected response to the Shergold-Weir Report released in April 2018 and is primarily focused on improving the quality and compliance of design documentation, for limited classes of multi-story buildings.

Following the introduction of the Bill the NSW Chapter appeared for a second time at the NSW Legislative Council Public Accountability Committee, inquiry into the regulation of building standards, building quality and building disputes on 5 November 2019. The Institute was represented by Ms Kathlyn Loseby and Ms Kathryn Hurford – National Policy Manager. Read the media release issued by the Institute following the hearing.

The NSW Chapter also provided a second submission to the inquiry ahead of the hearing which can be viewed here.

The Committee issued the First Report of the Inquiry on 13 November 2019. The report extensively quotes the evidence given by the Institute.

After the Bill was passed by the Legislative Assembly the Institute also issued an open letter to all members of the Legislative Council seeking reforms to the Bill to better protect the consumer and ensure the appropriate licensing and regulation of all building professionals. Read the letter.

We also took a lead role in further engagement with the NSW Government through the “Building Stakeholder Group” resulting in debate of the Bill being adjourned until 2020 allowing for the scope of the Bill to be considered in more detail.

The Institute is also part of the Building Reform Expert Panel, this group had its inaugural meeting 18 December 2019 and is expected to convene regularly to advise the NSW Building Commissioner David Chandler and the Minister Kevin Anderson MP (Better Regulation and Innovation). There are six advisory pillars feeding this Panel, and the Institute has been invited to provide nominations to each.

Since the adjournment of the Bill, the Institute has continued to engage with the Department of Fair Trading, Office of the Minister for Better Regulation and the Building Commissioner. This work will continue throughout 2020.

Kick-starting the productivity conversation

The NSW Chapter lodged a submission in response to the NSW Productivity Commission Discussion paper “Kick Starting the Productivity Conversation” on 27 November 2019. The Institutes response centred around the comments related to “Planning for the housing we want and the jobs we need”. Several key recommendations were made including:

  • An integrated, coordinated approach across all levels of government and regulations is required through the urban develop design process to achieve best outcomes.
  • Housing design and building regulation must ensure the provision of appropriate, quality housing.

Design policy as well as design and building regulation should recognise that the provision of appropriate, affordable, safe, secure, sustainable and well-located housing is a critical issue both now and into the future.

Poorly designed and built housing not only forgoes the wide-ranging economic benefits that appropriate housing delivers; it has an adverse impact on the physical and mental health of communities, resulting in increased economic costs including poorer health, social, educational and productivity outcomes. Members can read the submission here.