President's report - September, 2021

Posted on : Friday, 24 September 2021

Dear members,

 

"What is the BCR?"  An important question, and one I've heard quite a bit over the last three years. 

 

 

So, what is it?

 

'BCR' is shorthand for the Building Confidence report, otherwise known as the Shergold-Weir report. 

 

This comprehensive review of Australia's building and construction industry was commissioned by the Building Ministers' Forum (BMF) in 2017. 

 

It tasked Professor Peter Shergold AC and Ms Bronwyn Weir to 'undertake an assessment of the effectiveness of compliance and enforcement systems' in the industry. 

 

The report examined everything about the construction sector, from roles and responsibilities, education, and licensing, to auditing and certification, to product importation, and Fire Protection Association Australia engaged frequently with the authors. 

 

Their findings, I believe, could deliver the most significant change to our industry in a generation.  

 

 

Recommendations for reform

 

Shergold and Weir proposed 24 recommendations that were designed to allow jurisdictions to choose how to proceed - they stated that they did 'not espouse a one-size-fits-all approach to regulation'. 

 

However, they did picture the BMF members working in partnership to implement the proposed framework and taking collective responsibility for its implementation. 

 

Some jurisdictions had reportedly already implemented some of the proposals, but it was suggested that all needed to do more to 'deliver the national best practice model proposed'. 

 

To achieve some consistency, the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) established the Building Confidence Report Implementation Team (BCRIT). 

 

This group develops and coordinates national responses to each of the recommendations by preparing discussion papers and consulting with government, industry, and other stakeholders, in a workplan developed by the BMF. 

 

While this will create national positions, the responsibility to implement them, and how much and what they choose to implement, will still be up to state and territory governments. 

 

 

What did the report propose? 

 

The ABCB is tasked with creating positions on each of the report's recommendations, and FPA Australia has actively been responding to each of the discussion papers as they have been released. 

 

Although all of the recommendations have some relevance to our sector, some of it is only tangential, but the key areas of interest are:   


  • Recommendations 1 and 2:  Registration and training of building practitioners, including fire safety practitioners;
  • Recommendation 3:  Compulsory CPD training on the National Construction Code;
  • Recommendation 6:  Monitoring and enforcement of building work by regulators;
  • Recommendation 7:  Public auditing of commercial buildings (class 2-9);
  • Recommendations 12 and 20:  Introduction of a building information database and the development of a building manual;
  • Recommendation 13:  Building code compliance by registered practitioners;
  • Recommendation 15:  Transparent processes for approving performance solutions;
  • Recommendation 17:  Independent third-party review of designs for certain specified components or types of buildings; and
  • Recommendation 19:  Registration of fire safety practitioners to design, install, and certify fire safety systems in commercial buildings (class 2-9). 

 

The last of these recommendations is perhaps the most important -FPA Australia has always supported a comprehensive licencing/accreditation scheme that is confirms the skills and experience required for each role.  

 

 

FPA Australia's strategy

 

We will be providing our perspective to the ABCB on this and other issues to ensure that the position of the regulators is in the best interests of our members and designed to enhance community safety. 

 

However, the ABCB work is only setting a national standard for implementation - states and territories are not compelled to abide by it. 

 

So, FPA Australia is developing a strategic, state-by-state response to each of the recommendations, comparing the report against state and territory initiatives, so that we can argue for better alignment with the national position. 

 

NSW has taken the lead in advancing many of the BCR recommendations, but this is probably for two reasons - a dedicated Building Commissioner, who is focused on reform, and a litany of issues in construction and high-profile incidents such as Opal Towers that forced the Government's hand. 

 

We want to reach out to governments across the country to engage with them on their reform plans and to ensure that all members' interests are being represented. 

 

We will provide more detail in future editions of Advocacy Signals as it gets finalised. 

 

In the meantime, if you wish to provide feedback about how the Association should respond to the BCR, or on any other matter, please email us at board@fpaa.com.au

 

Stay safe! 

 

William Lea AFSM

President