The building and construction industry has been in the news frequently over recent times for shoddy workmanship, leaks, cracks, and illegal cladding to name just a few exposés.

The construction industry is a mainstay of our economy, the fourth biggest employer[1] in our state alone and a temperature gauge on our economy overall.  The RBA are sensitive to an overheated market, building approvals and clearance rates.  What happens then when there is a failure in confidence in a system so important to the economic health of the state and the nation? This was the task that was Professor Peter Shergold AC and Ms Bronwyn Weir were charged with in their report into the industry, titled ‘Building Confidence – Improving the effectiveness of compliance and enforcement systems for the building and construction industry across Australia’.

The BDAV invited Bronwyn Weir to address the members on the paper; the terms of references, the industry profile, the players, and briefly the recommendations made, twenty-four of them in all.  The report was designed to be read, not filed away to oblivion or briefed to the executive summary only.  Suffice to say it is a concise read.

Now nearly 12months on the question is what progress has been made?  A valid question from the floor. The response was akin to an episode of Yes Minister.  In that time, there has been 4 state elections, 3 returned, of the 11 ministers present, at the first round table, only 4 were there in the beginning.  The explanation went on further to say that the states did not want to be told what to do, that other policy areas were prioritised in lieu of re-regulation of the construction industry. It is apparent that both local and state governments are sensitive to what increased regulation would have on the industry and the consequential state revenue derived from that activity.

In a follow up presentation, the VBA representatives failed to explain how the regulator will use their power directly, but rather pointed the finger at the surveyors, architects and designers, engineers and other consultants in the process, to improve the system.  The expression of applying standards through ‘community goggles’, that is peoples’ expectations,  was a statement as toothless as the VBA appeared.

Yet again, it will be private industry, particularly the insurance and finance industry that will secure the impetus of policy change as governments play catchup in restoring confidence in a system that is near to broke.

[1] Dosen & Graham, Victorian Economic Snapshot, No. 1, February 2018, Parliamentary Library & Information Service.