The introduction of the Building and Planning Legislation Amendment (Governance and Other Matters) Bill 2013 (the Bill) represents the first stage in a program of planned major reforms to the building system that will deliver changes to governance and regulation across the entire building industry.
Some of the important proposals in the Bill include –
- Establishing the Victorian Building Authority
- Establishing the Victorian Building Authority Fund
- Strengthening registration requirements for building practitioners and plumbers
- Increased disciplinary measures available to the Building Practitioners Board
The Bill, currently awaiting formal assent, will amend the Building Act 1993, the Architects Act 1991 and the Planning and Environment Amendment (General) Act 2013. Once enacted, the Building and Planning Legislation Amendment (Governance and Other Matters) Act 2013 (the Act) will commence on 1 July 2013.
1. Establishing the Victorian Building Authority
The Building Act 1993 will be amended to establish a new regulator for the building and plumbing industries – the Victorian Building Authority (the Authority). The Authority will replace the Building Commission and the Plumbing Industry Commission. Further reforms (which are expected in a later Bill) will see the Authority also replace the Architects Registration Board of Victoria, the Building Practitioners Board and the Building Appeals Board. The Bill provides for the establishment of the Authority, its governing board and the functions and powers and certain administrative procedures of the Authority to improve the effectiveness, transparency and accountability of the Authority. The Authority’s functions will include –
- Monitoring and enforcement of compliance with the Building Act 1993
- Administering the scheme for the registration and licensing of plumbers
- Developing national building and plumbing standards
- New disciplinary measures available to the Building Practitioners Board
2. Establishing the Victorian Building Authority Fund
The Bill will also establish the Victorian Building Authority Fund, which will replace the Building Administration Fund and the Plumbing Fund. The Authority will administer the new fund.
The introduction of the Authority and the Building Authority Fund means that key areas of regulation must be re-enacted into the new structure. Among the many changes, some of the key re-enactments include the sections in the Building Act 1993 that provide for the building permit levy and the functions of building surveyors that are carried out by the Authority.
3. Strengthening registration requirements for building practitioners and plumbers
The Bill will add to the regulatory schemes for the registration of building practitioners and the licensing and registration of plumbers. This is the beginning of the reforms that are designed to streamline and strengthen the regulatory system.
The Bill introduces the rule that a person applying to the Building Practitioners Board for registration as a building practitioner must include in the application a signed authorisation for the Building Practitioners Board to get a police record check.
4. Increased disciplinary measures available to the Building Practitioners Board
The disciplinary measures available to the Building Practitioners Board are broadened. A new provision gives the Board the power to request a registered building practitioner to give an undertaking to do a specified thing, including completing or rectifying specified building work, in addition to the existing power to require a building practitioner not to do a specified thing. The new disciplinary measures do not apply to decisions of the Board on an inquiry commenced before the commencement day.
This Bill is only the beginning of major reform to the building system. With such large changes taking place, companies need to make themselves aware of the new procedures and requirements that they must follow.