The building industry fails to deliver buildings that meet minimum building, safety standards.
Over the last fifteen years, there have more than one hundred (100) Inquiries into the building industry and its governance. These have included parliamentary inquiries and investigations by the Auditor-General, the Productivity Commission, the Ombudsman and other independent organizations. They have examined the industry and governance framework in the states and territories, as well as across Australia as a whole. All reports resulting from these inquiries have been extremely damning and time and again they have confirmed the systematic and systemic failure.
As a consequence, the building industry has failed to deliver buildings that meet minimum building and safety standards, with all those responsible for policy and governance electing to their fundamental responsibilities. They have failed to control the industry, failed to enforce compliance and failed to implement measures to protect consumers. Additionally, in recent years the public has been made aware of the widespread use of sub-standard and non-compliant products and materials which do not meet Australian standards, but most significantly, many of these products are extremely dangerous and pose a serious threat to people’s lives.
There is now overwhelming evidence of a malfunctioning system, one riddled with many weaknesses and for decades plagued by appalling governance and maladministration. The Government agencies responsible for control of the building industry have failed in their obligations and duty of care, leaving consumers totally unprotected and at serious risk of harm. If we consider Victoria as an example, the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office has conducted three major investigations into domestic building – in 2000, 2011 and 2015. The findings confirm that since the introduction of this ‘model’ under the Building Act in 1993, Victoria’s building industry has been effectively lawless. A meaningless registration regime, a lack of enforcement of building and consumer laws and ‘junk insurance’ have endorsed and empowered the cowboys to rule. Combined with information asymmetry and the artificial creation of ‘disputes’, consumers have been extremely disadvantaged, left powerless and ultimately without any means of protection. The consequences have been devastating. Today we are faced with a consumer disaster on a massive scale, one never before imagined and far worse than any natural disaster in our history, man-made and repeated every year.
Consumer Detriment Survey 2006 Consumer Detriment in Victoria: a survey of its nature, costs and implications. (By Consumer Affairs Victoria)
Percy Allan Report 2002 (National Review of Home Builders Warranty Insurance and Consumer Protection)