AIBS Board Communique

27 July 2018

The Board of AIBS met on Friday 20 July 2018, one month ahead of schedule due to several matters that required their urgent attention.

This communique is to outline to members the outcome of the key items addressed by the Board at this meeting.

Professional Indemnity Insurance Availability

As members will be aware through our recent communications, AIBS has been at the forefront of addressing the very serious issue of availability of PI insurance.  Since the release of our communique of 30 June 2018 (you can find it here) alerting everyone to the desperate situation that some of our members and colleagues faced, we have been lobbying government at various levels.  There has been a mixed response across different jurisdictions, but our understanding is that the Building Ministers Forum (BMF) plans to address this topic at its August meeting.  

While AIBS is hopeful that the BMF meeting may lead to some positive developments, we remain very concerned about the adequacy at which this is being addressed in different jurisdictions around the country. 

The AIBS Board has developed the following position on PI Insurance:

  1. AIBS does not support allowing PI Insurance policies with exclusions to be accepted because we do not believe this will alleviate the current issue in the longer term
  2. While a new insurer has very recently come into the market with PI policies without exclusions, the recent crisis remains unresolved and, as yet, a viable solution for the future has not been presented.  The current scenario is simply a plug in a badly leaking hole which could burst at any time. 
  3. The long-term solution to the issue is for the States and Territories to support the development of a Professional Standards Scheme (PSS) for building surveyors.
  4. In the interim, government must intervene with a funding model for the rectification of non-compliant external cladding which will give confidence to insurers and encourage them to resume offering exclusion free PI policies.  Any such funding model should be a nationally consistent and federally administered scheme.
  5. All Cladding Taskforces currently working in isolation in the various jurisdictions must align their approaches and work co-operatively to support a commonly agreed nationally consistent outcome.  This would work ‘hand-in-hand’ with a national funding scheme as in Point 4 above.

The current PI issue has been developing for some time.   Over this time there has been little done to address the issue. AIBS has been pro-active in developing an application for a Professional Standards Scheme (PSS) which we believe is the long-term solution to the issue.   However, there needs to be an interim strategy to deal with the PI problem before we can reach our goal of a PSS for building surveyors. 

We are in our current position because the insurance industry believes there is too much risk around the use of external cladding and non-conforming building products.  In our view, this current scenario has most likely been exacerbated by the disparate work of the various cladding taskforces around the country and uncertainty about what their eventual outcomes will be.

Given the fragility of the current situation, any decisions taken in the near future by government are likely to have significant impact on the construction industry.  We all know what the impacts could be, so for this reason, there needs to be a strong and meaningful collaboration between government and industry to ensure that there is a carefully crafted, nationally cohesive solution.

Over the past 18 months or so, AIBS has been at the forefront of developing a strategic, holistic and pro-active approach to achieving building regulatory reform through various public forums looking to achieve a more effective building regulatory system.   Our AIBS Policy on Building Regulatory Reform in Australia is one example of our pro-active approach.

AIBS is committed to working closely and co-operatively with the BMF, the Senior Officers Group and respective governments across the country. 

The Board will continue to closely monitor the situation and advocate to all levels of government and the BMF for a suitable solution and will keep you abreast of any further developments.
AIBS Response to the Shergold/Weir Report  

Since the release of the Shergold Weir Report, AIBS has been working on developing a comprehensive response. The report is important given its focus on building surveying.

The Board is pleased to release the AIBS response which can be found here.   Our response has been sent to the BMF and will be distributed widely to government.  

We look forward to any feedback or comments you might have. 

AIBS Policy on Building Regulatory Reform in Australia  

AIBS publicly released our building regulatory reform agenda titled AIBS Policy – Building Regulatory Reform in Australia in September 2017.   At that point, we advised that this would be a living document and updated as required.   Following consultation with members, feedback from industry and also taking into account the Shergold Weir Report, the Board approved the updated policy which can be found here.   While there are changes contained throughout the document, the key changes are contained in sections A7 and B1.   It should also be noted that further development of section C2 in relation to mandatory inspections is ongoing. 

The Board is encouraged by the feedback being received across government and industry and note the AIBS policy is still the only definitive document on building regulatory reform in Australia.

Disciplinary Matters – The Board considered two serious disciplinary matters.   While these matters are confidential and ongoing in accordance with the disciplinary procedures in the AIBS By-Laws, the Board wants to take the opportunity remind members of their obligations, not just under the AIBS Code of Conduct, but the Code of Conduct of which they operate in their jurisdictions.   

Right now, building surveying is under considerable public scrutiny and it is incumbent upon all of us to undertake our roles in a credible, professional and ethical manner highlighting the vital role building surveyors play in protecting the interest of the public through safe compliant buildings.

On a final note, the Board thanks you for your ongoing support. For those who have not yet renewed your membership for the next year, we hope you will do so in the coming weeks so we can continue to represent you and provide professional services to the profession.

Best wishes,

Timothy Tuxford 
National President