Building Regulations 2021 – Consultation Process Failure QLD

On 9 March 2020, AIBS met with key members of the Housing and Public Works Policy Team to discuss work that had commenced on a ‘Building Regulation Review’ project. AIBS had previously made a submission in response to a call for input regarding the scope of a review of the Queensland Building Regulations. The meeting was requested to discuss the extensive points raised by AIBS.

During the meeting, we were given an explanation of the context of regulatory reform work. We were advised that there was a recognition that reforms are needed which are beyond the terms of reference of the required sunset review. We were advised that the sunset review was Phase 1 work, with timeframes very much guided by the expiry date of 31st August 2020.  It was noted also that the caretaker period for the Qld election is likely also to dictate the timeframe needed to complete the Regulation review, noting the election date was set in legislation (1st Saturday in October) but the caretaker period is not.

The focus of the meeting was largely on identifying items that should be in the Phase 1 Sunset Review scope and discussing how they might be addressed. Then the COVID-19 pandemic began to directly impact the Australian community and soon afterward the Queensland state election saw the incumbent government returned and Minister de Brenni retain responsibility for building regulation within his expanded portfolio of responsibility. On that basis, we expected what we had been told in March 2020 would hold regarding the wider regulation review process.

The sunset review was completed with the Building Regulations affirmed by the Qld Parliament ahead of the commencement of caretaker mode. AIBS has had no indication of the progress of the wider regulation review foreshadowed as Phase 2 work. There has been considerable work undertaken through the Building Industry Fairness and Other Legislation Act (BIFOLA) reform project and AIBS has actively participated in that work. There have also been reforms to the licensing and registration structures for practitioners in Queensland which we have contributed to.

Reform of the Building Regulations has not been mentioned at the Ministerial Construction Council. Public consultation on the phase 2 reforms has not been undertaken and we are not aware of any communication to industry that this work had begun, was progressed, completed or due to be adopted and take effect.

That was until 1 September 2021 when we received an e-mail providing a link to the newly adopted Building Regulations 2021 which took effect on 1 September 2021. Understandably, we have heard from many of our members in Queensland that this has been a significant shock to their practice and business operation. We have conveyed many of these concerns to the Minister in a letter expressing our concern regarding this outcome and seeking assurances that appropriate consideration is given to practitioners doing their best to comply in these circumstances and more importantly, the Minister’s assurance that practitioners can be confident that the government will behave more predictably in future so that sovereign risk is not a significant business planning consideration in this sector.

If the regulation changes are adversely impacting you or your business, and you believe there is something that AIBS could do to assist you to overcome these concerns, please contact us.