Coalition Senators are in firm agreement with the committee's view that
'confidence in the materials we use to build our domestic, commercial and
public buildings is of paramount importance to us all'.
Coalition Senators note that the government has been working
consistently to stamp out the use of non-conforming building products.
Building Minister's Forum
(Recommendations 1, 3, 5, 6 and 10)
Coalition Senators note that the Australian Government does not have
legislative or regulatory power in relation to buildings; however, the
government does have an important role in leading collaboration across
jurisdictions through the Building Ministers' Forum (BMF).
The BMF is working collaboratively to implement a national best practice
model for compliance and enforcement consistent with the recommendations of the
Building Confidence Report.
The initial focus will be on reforms to the integrity and transparency
of the building certification processes. The BMF will also be exploring a
consistent approach to the registration and training of practitioners, and the
responsibilities of design practitioners.
Coalition Senators note that the Australian Government does not have the
power to impose penalties, as the regulatory framework governing the built
environment relies on the constitutional authority of the state and territory
Coalition Senators stress that, given the seriousness of the possible
implications for safety, state and territory governments should carefully
consider the enforcement actions they have in place, including penalty regimes.
Coalition Senators note that the inappropriate use of combustible
cladding is a symptom of a broader issue of non-compliance with state and
territory regulatory frameworks that is undermining the effective
implementation of the National Construction Code (NCC).
Coalition Senators commend the Government for recognizing the widespread
non-compliance with the NCC, and consequently for providing advice to the BMF
to commission Professor Peter Shergold and Ms Bronwyn Weir to undertake
assessment of the compliance and enforcement problems within the building
system. The BMF released their final report, 'Building Confidence—Improving
the effectiveness of compliance and enforcement systems for the building and
construction industry across Australia', on 27 April 2018. The BMF has
agreed to develop an implementation plan for national best practice model for
compliance and enforcement, in response to the recommendations of the Building
Coalition Senators wish to stress that, as mentioned before, states and
territories have responsibility for the built environment, including regulation
of products and building materials in accordance with the NCC.
However, Coalition Senators note that the Federal Safety Commissioner
made compliance with the NCC a condition of accreditation under the Australian
Government Work Health and Safety Accreditation Scheme in January 2017.
Coalition Senators wish to highlight that the Federal Safety Commissioner
is currently working with state and territory governments and consulting with
key industry stakeholders on a framework to implement this function and undertake
audit activities across the accredited companies to foster a strong culture of
compliance across industry through education and promotion of preventative
Enforcement of existing importation
of asbestos offence (Recommendation 13)
Coalition Senators wish to draw attention to the government's strong
record on taking action to prevent Australians from the scourge of asbestos.
Importation of all forms of asbestos was made illegal by the Coalition
Government as of
31 December 2003. Border offences relating to asbestos can attract significant
fines up to $210,000 for individuals, $1.05 million for a body corporate, or
three times the value of the goods—whichever is greater. This ban supports the
equally strict workplace ban on asbestos, which was also introduced nationally
by the Coalition on 31 December 2003. Here, under the model work health and
safety laws, the most serious offences are punishable by imprisonment and
Coalition Senators further draw attention to the announcement on
30 November 2018 by the Hon. Kelly O'Dwyer, Minister for Jobs and Industrial
Relations, and Senator the Hon. Linda Reynolds CSC, Assistant Minister for Home
Affairs, that the government will consult shortly on reforms to further
strengthen the penalties associated with the unlawful importation of asbestos
by increasing penalties, simplifying classification of asbestos materials, and
helping to protect the community from illegal importation of asbestos materials
into the future. These reforms are further evidence of the Government's commitment
to keeping Australia's asbestos border control management processes secure.
Senator Jane Hume
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