Member Alert – Developer Review Outcome – QLD

16 June 2023

The final report of the independent Developer Review Panel – Industry Reference Group (IRG) was tabled in the Queensland Parliament this week. The review resulted from submissions to the Queensland Parliament’s former Transport and Public Works Committee about the important role developers play in the building and construction industry. The Committee stated that there should be further consideration of developers’ financial and operational capacity, ethical behaviour and work practices.

AIBS was among key stakeholder groups appointed by the Minister to the IRG and we had significant input throughout.
AIBS supports the focussed approach that the IRG has adopted in addressing its terms of reference and the efforts to identify where regulation is necessary among other initiatives or actions that could better provide for improved consumer outcomes arising from developer actions, or inactions. 
A key element of AIBS’s representation noted that, in general, compliance and safety risks tend to be considered technical risks that are to be passed from the developer onto the head contractor responsible for delivering the development. AIBS considers that this is an important decision-making point in a development that is key to influencing outcomes for consumers. 
AIBS maintains a policy position that all involved in the building industry should be required to hold a license or registration to do so which provides for greater accountability by all. In the context of the IRG review, this would translate to a recommendation from AIBS that any person procuring a development should either hold an appropriate licence or registration to do so on the strength of their qualifications to participate in the industry, or that they should procure the services of a suitably licensed or registered person to act on their behalf.

The final report and outcomes
While consultation through the review process was extensive, AIBS was not consulted about the content of the final report, titled Setting the tone: The role of developers in Queensland’s building and construction industry. So, it is important to note that the majority of our contributions as a key targeted stakeholder have been incorporated into the final report but there are some elements that we were not aware of and do not support. Despite this, we consider that the overall result is positive.
The report contains five recommendations, each aligning with parts of the AIBS Policy: Building Regulatory Reform in Australia and which recommend new controls for developers around AIBS’s position that developers be subject to registration and licensing, CPD, accreditation, non-conforming building product / chain of custody requirements and management of construction information.
The recommendations are:
Recommendation 1: Establish an accreditation, disclosure and registration framework for developers
Recommendation 2: Improve industry education
Recommendation 3: Clarify developer responsibilities in relation to non-conforming building products
Recommendation 4: Clarify developer responsibilities in relation to fairness in contracting in Queensland
Recommendation 5: Promote the uptake of digital tools for recording design and construction information.

Observations made in the report not supported by AIBS
In addition to the five recommendations, the report contains seven observations about various matters that were outside the terms of reference for the IRG. These observations included commentary on various roles within the development process such as that of financiers and ‘certifiers.’
Observation five makes comments about the role of building surveyors engaged in certification work and raises issues said to be requiring further work within the Queensland Building Plan reform process. Specifically, observation five suggests the DEPW review could consider the following options to ensure independence in the relationship of a certifier and a developer:

  • random auditing, 
  • appropriate CPD: and 
  • introducing rules to require regular rotation of certifiers, similar to ASIC’s rules for the use of auditors or a ‘cab rank’ system

Random auditing and appropriate CPD should be part of a properly functioning regulatory system and as such are supported by AIBS. However, the concept of allocating certification work via a cab rank system has never been supported by AIBS and will not be supported now that it has been raised, yet again. 

Work allocation via a next in line type system has been discussed and dismissed previously by the Queensland Government and also by the government in New South Wales because it is neither warranted or viable. Such a proposal has been discarded for good reasons, so it is baffling that it is once again being raised. The content of observation five is surprising and an unfortunate detraction from an otherwise sound report.

What happens now?
AIBS looks forward to further announcements from the Minister regarding implementation of the recommended reforms and stands ready to contribute to the work the Queensland Government is undertaking to improve consumer outcomes in the building and construction industry. We will, of course, once again make our views known about the ‘cab rank’ system of work allocation.
Members with questions about the above matters are welcome to raise them with AIBS personnel at the QLD/NT Conference on 22 – 23 June 2023 or you can post your queries on NEXUS, the virtual member discussion platform.