Design and Building Practitioners Act passes

Posted on : Wednesday, 3 June 2020

The NSW Government's Design and Building Practitioners Act 2020 passed Parliament on Tuesday night and was assented to on Wednesday. 


In a media conference about the Act, Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation, the Hon Kevin Anderson MP, heralded the Act as part of a 'no nonsense approach to achieving and maintaining best practice regulation'


He saw it as 'a huge step forward in rebuilding the construction sector into a transparent, accountable, customer-centric industry that consumers deserve.' 


In general, Fire Protection Association Australia (FPA Australia) supports the Act and the desire for accountability. 


However, there is still a significant amount of uncertainty surrounding the legislation. 


In particular, it has been suggested by some in Government that fire safety engineers will be responsible for signing off all fire safety designs in a single declaration. 


This is not desirable and such a move would not be supported by FPA Australia.


The practitioners who prepare the designs, or who oversee the work of their own design teams, should be the ones taking responsibility. 


Fire systems designers - who are being accredited by FPA Australia under another government statute - want to be responsible and should be responsible for ensuring the compliance of their own designs. 


Where there are interfaces between systems, the designers of the relevant systems should work together to declare that their designs have accounted for the interface. 


This is work best done by the people involved, not elevated to a professional class that has not been trained in, and doesn't want to take responsibility for, the design of the systems. 


Now that the Bill has passed, the regulations will be prepared. 


FPA Australia will continue to engage with the Building Commissioner and the Government to establish the most appropriate practices for issuing declarations through those regulations. 


In so doing, our focus will be on ensuring that practitioners who wish to take responsibility for their work are able to do so.