NSW parliament launches inquiry into apartment building standards

NSW parliament launches inquiry into apartment building standards
NSW parliament launches inquiry into apartment building standards

Building standards in NSW will be investigated by a parliamentary inquiry. It will be conducted by the NSW upper house public accountability committee.

After the Mascot and Opal Towers disasters, the Greens MP David Shoebridge, Labor MP John Graham and Shooters, Fishers and Farmers leader Robert Borsak succeeded in securing an upper house inquiry into the issue.

The state government has been accused of being flat-footed since the first cracks emerged last December at Opal Tower in Sydney’s Olympic Park. 

The inquiry, established on 4 July 2019, will inquire into and report on the regulation of building standards, building quality and building disputes.

“We want to see the public’s submissions on this because some politicians think it’s just Mascot and Opal Towers, but there are hundreds of thousands of these across the state,” Shoebridge said. 

“This is a chance for people to speak directly to politicians and set out the scale of the problem.

"Due to widespread public concern this issue needs to be addressed urgently," said Mr Shoebridge.

The committee will look at the role of private certification in protecting building standards, the adequacy of consumer protections for owners of new buildings, limitations on insurance and compensation schemes. 

It will also look at instances of flammable cladding use on NSW buildings.

The inquiry will hold hearings in August with submissions from the public to be made by July 28.

In February, the NSW government promised to appoint a Building Commissioner to protect homeowners after agreeing there were "significant and concerning" industry problems following the Opal matter.

The Mascot Tower cracks, which had been evident in the 2008-built block since 2011, hit the headlines last month.

That the Public Accountability Committee inquire into and report on the regulation of building standards, building quality and building disputes by government agencies in New South Wales, including:

  1. (a)  the role of private certification in protecting building standards, including:

    1. (i)  conflicts of interest

    2. (ii)  effectiveness of inspections

    3. (iii)  accountability of private certifiers

    4. (iv)  alternatives to private certifiers,

  2. (b)  the adequacy of consumer protections for owners and purchasers of new apartments/dwellings, and limitations on building insurance and compensation schemes, including:

    1. (i)  the extent of insurance coverage and limitations of existing statutory protections

    2. (ii)  the effectiveness and integrity of insurance provisions under the Home Building Act 1989

    3. (iii)  liability for defects in apartment buildings,

  3. (c)  the role of strata committees in responding to building defects discovered in common property, including the protections offered for all strata owners in disputes that impact on only a minority of strata owners,

  4. (d)  case studies related to flammable cladding on NSW buildings and the defects discovered in Mascot Towers and the Opal Tower,

  5. (e)  the current status and degree of implementation of recommendations of reports into the building industry including the Lambert report 2016, the Sherwood/Weir report 2018 and the Opal Tower investigation final report 2019, and

  6. (f)  any other related matter.

That the committee table an interim report as soon as practical and its final report by 14 February 2020.

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of our authors. Jonathan has been writing about property since the early 1980s and is editor-at-large of Property Observer.

Tags: 
Building Industry Opal Tower

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