On Thursday last week, the Public Accountability Committee tabled its final report for the inquiry into the regulation of building standards, building quality and building disputes. Tabling the second and final report marks the end of this massive inquiry which has been running since July 2019.
After the first report was tabled at the end of 2019, the committee obtained further evidence on important issues relating to the building and construction industry in New South Wales. The committee held a number of additional hearings, including:
- A full day hearing into the issue of flammable cladding
- An offsite hearing in Newcastle to hear from local councils and groups outside of Sydney
- An in-camera (private) hearing to hear from building professionals about problems in the industry
- A final session with the NSW Government to hear about their progress in addressing the issues within the industry.
The final report makes 22 recommendations relating to issues of flammable cladding, strata committees, and private certification. The recommendations cover a wide range of solutions to some of the issues that the committee uncovered, from additional funding, to releasing information, to updating the National Construction Code. Many of these recommendations also focus on how to address flammable cladding based on the Victorian Government’s response to cladding.
The recommendations in the final report build on recommendations made in the inquiry’s first report. For example, the first report recommended the establishment of a Building Commission to oversee building and construction in New South Wales. The final report recommends a number of new entities that would sit within the Building Commission, such as a Strata Commissioner and a dedicated flammable cladding unit.
What about the bill?
You may remember that back in the first report, the committee reviewed the Design and Building Practitioners Bill 2019 and made a number of recommendations about it, suggesting amendments that could be made to the bill and recommending that more consultation was needed before the bill should proceed. The bill is now in the Legislative Council but has yet to be debated. In the final report, the committee recommends that debate resume on the bill at the upcoming sitting next week.
And they’re not done yet…
Now the final report is tabled, the inquiry is over but that doesn’t mean the committee gets to take a break. During the building inquiry, the committee has been working on two other inquiries and there is still more work to be done on these:
- Budget process for independent oversight bodies and the Parliament of New South Wales: The committee has been looking into how various independent NSW bodies, like ICAC and the Electoral Commission, as well as the NSW Parliament are funded. The committee tabled its first report for this inquiry in March, with another report on the way.
- NSW Government’s management of the COVID-19 pandemic: Hearings for this inquiry began today via videoconference.
In addition, in the final report for building regulation, the committee foreshadowed holding a further inquiry at the end of this year to review the NSW Government’s reforms into the building and construction industry. The work is far from over, so watch this space!