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    AIA condemns Australia’s low building standards

    The Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) is calling for Australia’s building ministers to implement consistent nationwide changes to improve safety and better protect people from the threat posed by poor compliance with building regulations.

    Specifically, the AIA is urging the Building Ministers’ Forum (BMF) to adopt a range of recommendations aimed at improving compliance with the National Construction Code (NCC).

    At their last meeting in April this year, building ministers from the federal, state and territory governments were presented with the findings and recommendations of the Building Confidence report. Commissioned by the BMF, and conducted by Professor Peter Shergold AC and Ms Bronwyn Weir, the independent report identified a range of issues with the implementation of the NCC including quality control and assurance, design, accountability, education and training, and auditing and enforcement practices.

    Authors Peter Shergold and Bronwyn Weir made 24 recommendations aimed at improving NCC compliance and enforcement systems and establishing a national best practice model to strengthen its implementation.

    The AIA supports the report’s recommendations and believes they should be adopted by all states and territories to protect the interests of those who own, work, live, or conduct their business in Australian buildings, according to acting national president Richard Kirk.

    “The Grenfell tragedy demonstrated in the starkest and most distressing way the dire, indeed fatal, consequences of not properly regulating and enforcing compliance with the highest standards of building construction. We must learn and apply the lessons from Grenfell here for the safety of all Australians,” says Kirk.

    “With the emergence of non-traditional procurement methods, industry has lost the necessary clarity of responsibility of decision-making around materials and building systems. The Shergold-Weir report identified widespread failures regarding compliance, performance requirements and design. It also showed public trust in the industry, especially relating to health and safety, was lacking.”

    According to the AIA, the report also notes inconsistencies between NCC implementation and compliance across the states and territories and calls for an aligned approach across the board.

    “While Australia has a nationally-applicable technical standard for buildings, our federation provides for each state and territory to have its own laws governing the implementation of the NCC,” says Kirk.

    “Some jurisdictions already have in place some of the things that we recommend. But all jurisdictions will have work to do to deliver the national best practice model proposed.”

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