How the NSW Government gutted tougher laws on non-conforming building products: Four Corners

How the NSW Government gutted tougher laws on non-conforming building products: Four Corners
How the NSW Government gutted tougher laws on non-conforming building products: Four Corners

New laws to police dangerous building products in NSW — also called non-conforming products — were whittled down by the NSW Cabinet.

The laws — known as chain of responsibility laws — were meant to ensure every person who used or supplied a product on a building site could be held personally responsible if it failed.

NSW showed a draft bill of its own proposed law privately to building industry groups.

It was based on recent Queensland legislation.

But when the bill entered the NSW Parliament, Four Corners reported the industry was shocked to see it had been "absolutely gutted."

"We counted up about 80 clauses that had been pulled out of the documentation," Rodger Hills, the executive officer at the Building Products Industry Council, said.

"They had taken a lot of time to incorporate all the learnings and findings from the Queensland experience and wrapped it up into a piece of legislation that was robust, it was easy to use, and it would have done its job. 

"The industry representative left that meeting very hopeful that this was something that was going to be useful and it actually worked properly."

Many of the 80 clauses pulled out of the documentation of the proposed bill were clauses around non-conforming building products.

"In fact, the definition of a non-conforming building product wasn't even in the bill," Hills said. 

"All of the clauses to do with chain of responsibility and duty of care, they were all taken out. As were all powers, the recall powers the minister had to recall defective products."

Four Corners confirmed the NSW Cabinet rejected the proposed chain of responsibility law due to concerns it would impose more red tape on the building industry, potentially slowing it down.

The NSW Minister for Innovation Kevin Anderson would not comment on Cabinet deliberations but said: "The NSW Government is currently implementing the largest reform to the building and construction industry in the history of the state."

"As part of those reforms, the Government is considering a raft of measures that will improve the transparency, accountability and quality of work within the sector," he said.

Mr Anderson said the current situation "is a collective making of industry and the need for more modernised legislation".

The 2017 Queensland laws to police dangerous building products — also called non-conforming products — included flammable cladding that was responsible for the fire spreading in the UK's Grenfell Tower.

Watch Sean Nicholls' investigation, Cracking Up, on Four Corners on iview.

 

Tags: 
Nsw Government Building Defects

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