What is this about?
The NSW Government is progressing reforms to strengthen and simplify the building and certification system.
The Government recognises that more could be done to enhance the appointment of private certifiers. It sought feedback on whether an alternative appointment process should be introduced for certain types of developments and, if so, which process would most effective at managing conflicts of interest.
An Options Paper, ‘Improving Certifier Independence’, outlined three proposed options and was exhibited from 2-30 October 2018. It explored possible new methods of appointment for private certifiers, by rotating who is available to be used for a specific development, to minimise the opportunities for these certifiers to face pressures that could compromise their ability to act in the public interest.
What has happened so far?
The Building Professionals Act 2005 will be replaced by the Building and Development Certifiers Act 2018 (the Act).
This is intended to strengthen the certification system in NSW by clarifying certifier roles and responsibilities, improving independence of certifiers, tightening licensee probity requirements and improving licensing administration, complaint handling and disciplinary measures.
The Act will also amend the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 to introduce the ability to prescribe an alternative appointment process for principal certifying authorities to support certifier independence.
Public consultation on the Act (then a Bill) closed on 4 September 2018. Fair Trading reviewed all of the submissions and amended the Bill, which recevied assent in Parliament on 31 October 2018.
Options Paper – Improving Certifier Independence
The Options Paper described thresholds (including if the development is a Class 2 to 9 building above three storeys with a total floor area greater than 2,000 square meters and is valued at more at $5 million or more), that, if met, would require the development to be subject to one of the rotation options considered by the paper.
The three options were:
Option 1: The rotation scheme
This option involved the establishment of an eligibility list with certifiers who are selected at random from the list, similar to a lottery system.
Option 2: The cab rank scheme
This option involved the establishment of an eligibility list where the next available certifier would be appointed to work on a development that met the thresholds, similar to a cab rank.
Option 3: The time limit scheme
This option involved enforcing a limit on the amount of time a certifier can continually work for the same client, and would require the certifier to take a three-year break from the client after a certain period.
Feedback closed on 30 October 2018 on the Options Paper and the Government is considering the feedback received to determine whether any future reforms should be pursued.