New building legislation 2011
Following the information that featured in the last Newsletter regarding the four new Building Bills currently before the WA Parliament, CAWA wrote to Simon O’Brien, Minister for Commerce, expressing its concerns about The Building Services (Complaint Resolution and Administration) Bill 2010. This letter and a covering letter was also sent to the Master Builders’ Association, the Housing Industry Association, and other Members of Parliament.
To date, CAWA has had responses from Mark McGowan, Manager of Opposition Business, Shadow Minister for State Development, Regional Development, Housing and Works and Trade and Lisa Baker, MLA, Labor Spokesperson for Community Mental Health. Our concerns were raised in Parliament by both members in the second reading speech re these bills. We have also been invited to meet with Alison Xamon (Greens).
Both the letter and the explanatory note are reproduced on the next pages.
Reference is also made to a further letter, sent to Troy Buswell, the then Minister for Commerce, in 2009.
Accompanying this cover letter please find two letters written by Consumers’ Association of WA (CAWA) detailing our opposition to The Building Services (Complaint Resolution and Administration) Bill 2010, currently before the Western Australian Parliament. The latter letter, dated 17 Feb 2011, is addressed to the Hon Simon O’Brien, Minister for Commerce, and the former was sent at the invitation of Peter Gow, Executive Director of the Building Commission at the time the Hon Troy Buswell was Minister for Commerce. CAWA representatives later met with the Minister for Commerce to discuss the concerns raised in the former letter, only to be told that the Minister had already made his decision, and that he had not seen the letter prior to the meeting or been briefed as to its contents.
These letters are the culmination of ongoing dialogue that the CAWA has been having re the BDT and current building legislation since 2003 when we worked initially in collaboration with the Master Builders’ Association (MBA), the Housing Industry Association (HIA) and the Architects’ Board of WA. Over this time, CAWA has made numerous submissions and followed these up with face-to-face meetings where it has been apparent that decision making re the State Administrative model is a result of Ministerial decisions, based on assertions rather than a factual analysis of the benefits and weaknesses of the current system. These decisions were in direct opposition to the proposals put forward by both CAWA and building industry representative groups.
At this juncture, we are asking your support to ensure that the legislation is reviewed by a parliamentary committee in order that the allegations we raise in our current letter are investigated thoroughly. We allege that the new legislation will overturn a low cost, high turnover, no frills, non legalistic, highly democratic process based on equity, and good conscience. And, as currently mooted, the new building dispute process will be less equitable, more costly, more drawn out and in the end, far more frustrating for WA consumers. Based on past experience we know it is far better to get legislation ‘right’ in the first place, rather than ‘patch it’ once it has been passed. In this case it is especially important given the legislation involves a judicial system that relates to the most significant financial decisions WA consumers make in their lifetimes.
We appreciate you taking the time to read our letters and we would welcome the opportunity to meet with you in order to discuss these issues in more depth. I will contact you shortly in the hope that we can organise a time to discuss this important legislation in greater detail.