Builders Collective says construction industry is ‘broken’
A Royal Commission has been demanded into the construction sector due to Builders Collective of Australia stating that the ‘system’ is broken and failing citizens.
Builders Collective president Phil Dwyer says the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal building is a key example of the state the industry is in with the Tribunal under siege from disputes between developers, builders and the rest of the community.
“Our legislators need to reflect very seriously on a mood out here in the land of Joe and Jill Average that is gathering momentum every time we hear or read of good, hard-striving, fellow citizens who have been dudded by bad dwelling design, greedy developers who have facilitated the cutting of corners, or builders who work purely on a basis of expediency, and that these failings have been made easier by a misguided ideology and the inaction by those with the power to have done something about it,” he says.
“The bad designer, the greedy developer, the ultra expedient builder/tradesman might win an argument in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal against Joe or Jill on the basis of bigger money buys the better advocate, but a properly constituted judicial enquiry, ideally a Royal Commission with nationwide coverage, would surely not be a place to dodge the fact that the system is badly broken and in need of a complete revamp.”
Builders Collective says that the VCAT judgement on the Lacrosse apartment tower fire is exactly the type of outcome it’s been fighting for, where practitioners will be held accountable for their actions, enforcing compliance of existing regulations which should be implemented industry wide.
“The judgement is a breath of fresh air and vindicates our long-held position. But this moment must be taken as a chance to move this industry forward. Conflicts of interest, poor oversight from regulating bodies, and seeming indifference from Governments ensure that regulations, standards, and expectations are not being met in modern-day Australia,” says Phil.
Builders Collective submitted a paper directly to the Prime Minister which highlighted key points that have emerged in recent years:
– The decline in strict compliance to standards in the building sector began with the deregulation/privatisation of the various inspection regimes around Australia, commencing in the mid 1990s;
– Privatisation of building certifiers/surveyors
– The virtual collapse of Builder’s Warranty Insurance (BWI) in 2001 with the demise of HIH Insurance, only to be replaced by the HIA’s own scheme, and the developer-friendly “ten-point plan” that still poses as a BWI scheme;
– The past 15 or so years has seen a major shift toward higher density living. Apartment towers are now home to a large and increasing percentage of the Australian population.
Australia’s pre-eminent consumer advocate CHOICE has stated BWI is of no value, while National Insurance Brokers (NIBA) has described BWI as a “house of horrors” and “notoriously flawed in most states”.
“The Opal apartments fiasco, and cladding-fuelled fires at the Lacrosse and Neo200 towers demand a Royal Commission into our once proud building industry,” Phil says.
He said the economic costs of the key emerging points have been camouflaged by the fact that deregulation and privatisation are touted by many as money-saving ideology.
“That may well be so in the cases of who owns and operates airline companies, parking stations, port facilities, and tollways, but when it comes to personal and family wellbeing, security, and safety in the face of the elements, it is a dud theory; simply a means by which politicians and bureaucrats can dodge their obligations to their fellow citizens,” he says.
Economic costs that are incurred without a proper compliance regime in place:
– Courts bogged down with disputes
– Loss of productivity caused by worker absenteeism due to damaged or lost homes
– Accommodation of people denied access to their regular homes (as has happened with the Opal and Neo200 situations)
– Increasing insurance premiums
– Government and public assistance grants
Further impacts are made on:
– The elderly struggling on fixed incomes who are suddenly hit with a major expenditure
– Younger individuals and couples who are trying to live “the great Australian dream” and find themselves in financial trouble