Design and Building Practitioners Bill 2019_Amendments

(Consideration in Detail, 3 June 2020, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)

I welcome the return of the Design and Building Practitioners Bill 2019 following amendments in the other place. The bill reflects a number of recommendations of the 2018 Shergold and Weir Building Confidence report to improve apartment construction quality and give some owners of buildings with defects new options to get redress. It is not a silver bullet, but no one reform will be. I welcome the Government's commitment to further progress, some of which we will be dealing with today. The bill before the House has been strengthened since it was introduced and I acknowledge the contribution of the Legislative Council. The Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation and his excellent staff have worked constructively without partisanship to ensure the final legislation represents the best outcomes for apartment owners.

I joined the Owners Corporation Network call for new statutory duty of care provisions that ensure owners can sue for negligence to be extended to existing apartment owners. The Minister agreed and introduced the changes himself. That is a massive win for owners who are currently dealing with defective homes. A number of my amendments passed with multi-partisan support. A more inclusive definition of regulated buildings is now in the bill, ensuring that fundamental design and construction will be subject to the new regime regardless of the regulations. There will be greater transparency through new oversight of contractors and subcontractors doing work on an apartment, which was previously outside the remit of the bill. Importantly, one of my amendments will require the principal certifying office to receive all compliance declarations and consider any declared noncompliance before issuing an occupation certificate, thus ensuring occupation certificates will only be issued for buildings that comply with the new regime.

The lack of accreditation and registration of engineers in the building and construction sector creates significant risks for apartment defects. The member for Swansea introduced a bill for the registration of engineers in this State and the Environment and Planning Committee has assessed the bill. The bill introduced by the member for Swansea reflects a needed reform and I welcome the Government's decision to adopt its key provisions along with identified improvements to the bill. Our committee report is yet to be finalised but once it is I hope the Government will consider the recommendations as part of the statutory review of this legislation. The bill is a critically important step in taking this State out of the current defects crisis, which makes poor quality construction appear to be the norm and leaves many owners in financial hardship. I commend the bill and look forward to further reforms in the coming hours.