Getting the industry framework right for the next 20 years

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2006 is going to be a historical year for the building and construction industry. It will be the year in which the more detailed frameworks for Building Consent Authority accreditation, product certification and Building Practitioner Licensing will all be developed by the Department of Building & Housing (DBH). 

There will also be ongoing work done on the review of the Building Code, although we won’t see the fuller outcomes of that process for another 18 months or so. These frameworks will set how the industry will work and operate for the next 10 to 20 years — and as such they deserve all the careful consideration, oversight and input that the industry can muster. 

The Registered Master Builders Federation recognises the critical importance of these frameworks, and we have been as deeply involved in the policy development process as we possibly can. 

This includes meeting regularly with DBH officials on the details of the various policy proposals, and putting RMBF representatives onto the various working groups that the DBH has organised around key streams of work. 

We are dedicated to giving our input to DBH offi cials — and, if required, to the Minister and the Government — and I know that the DBH has also been keen to get that input back from us and the broader industry. 

It’s in their interest to ensure the regulatory frameworks they put in place are actually going to work and, with the advice we give them, we both have a mutual interest in working with each other. Our specifi c interest is in the building practitioner licensing framework, and we have been doing a great deal of work on this across the November to February period. 

While we have yet to see the final outcomes of that work — the DBH is putting its proposals to the Minister of Building Issues and Cabinet over the next few weeks — we can say that we have been happy with the level of consultation the DBH has sought from us and the industry on its proposals. 

The level of consultation from the DBH gives us confidence that we will end up with a licensing framework that will work and that will achieve the broader outcomes we are all looking for. As we progress closer towards implementation of some of these frameworks, it is sometimes easy to forget the original intent of the proposals and start slipping backwards into taking a softer approach than we really should be.

In the RMBF’s view a lot of what the Building Act is about is “lifting the quality of the industry”, and we will continue to use that benchmark to test the policy work that we are asked to comment on. As we know, sometimes it takes a bit of extra effort to “hold the line” — but we know the work we’re doing is important, we know the quality outcomes we want to achieve, and so we will continue to advocate the right framework on behalf of the industry. 

One of our business strategies is to be the “industry champion” — and the leadership role we have taken on licensing has been very much part of that industry champion strategy. We look forward to seeing what the proposed licensing framework looks like — which should be released by the DBH around April. We will keep informing our members of those outcomes as soon as they come to hand