Search for 'suitably qualified' staff blamed for delay to ACT construction industry overhaul
An overhaul of the ACT construction industry intended to be finished by the end of last financial year will not be completed until 2020, the Territory’s planning directorate has admitted.
Planning Minister Mick Gentleman announced in 2016 a suite of building reforms, including measures targeting “phoenixing” — where dodgy builders liquidate their assets and restart under a new identity to avoid creditors.
The reforms were also aimed at creating new minimum standards, compliance measures and licencing requirements for builders and certifiers.
But of the 43 reforms announced, the ACT’s chief planner, Ben Ponton, said it will have completed just over half by the end of this financial year — 12 months after deadline.
“We have identified 15 for this current financial year. Last financial year we spent time building the team,” Mr Ponton told a legislative assembly inquiry.
Thirteen reforms were completed before deadline, meaning 28 are expected to be finished by July next year.
Mr Ponton said national changes and recruiting issues delayed the reforms.
“One of the challenges for us has been to identify key people, people who are suitably qualified,” he said.
“Now that we have spent the time identifying the right people … we are now working through those first 15 recommendations, and are on target to achieve those.”
Among the reforms now prioritised are developing codes of practice for builders and building certifiers, and finalising minimum documentation requirements.
The responsibility for the reforms was shifted from Mr Gentleman to attorney-general Gordon Ramsay in a recent portfolio reshuffle.
Mr Ramsay said the Government was working to ensure dodgy builders won’t be able to work in Canberra.
“We’re working right across the industry, and the reforms that have been implemented over the last year and will be implemented over the next two years as well, are part of the way of ensuring we do have that high quality,” he said.
“We do have the fact there are some problems here, and we are going to make sure we can prevent the problems.”
Canberra Liberals MLA Mark Parton said the Government was not taking the issue seriously.
“I think it’s abundantly clear these reforms could have been completed by now and should have been,” Mr Parton said.
“When there’s been so much conversation about this, it’s dominated the public discussion for so long, I just cannot believe we’ve got these reforms that were announced years ago … I’m just astounded.”
Mr Ramsay said reforms are set to be complete by the end of the Government’s term, in 2020.