28 November 2023

Mr STEPHEN BALI (Blacktown) (12:44): My question is addressed to the Minister for Building. Can the Minister update the House on the action the Minns Labor Government is taking to restore trust and integrity in building?

Mr ANOULACK CHANTHIVONG (Macquarie Fields—Minister for Better Regulation and Fair Trading, Minister for Industry and Trade, Minister for Innovation, Science and Technology, Minister for Building, and Minister for Corrections) (12:44): Yes, I can update the House on the good member's question. I thank the member for Blacktown for his question regarding addressing trust and confidence in the building sector. We are confronting the biggest housing challenge in over a generation. The targets we are trying to achieve are significant. There is no doubt that quality in the construction sector is important to all members and not only to the member for Blacktown. We understand that buying a house or a dwelling is undoubtedly the biggest investment 99.9 per cent of us will make in our lifetime. It is more than just a financial transaction; it is indeed an emotional one as we try to set up a house for ourselves and our families, and embed ourselves in the community.

We know that quality and quantity of building construction should always go hand in hand. One cannot go without the other. That is why building trust and confidence is a core part of our housing reform agenda, to ensure that we continue to address the housing crisis we inherited. My good friend the planning Minister announced a great reform this morning, on top of other reforms that he has done so far. We are using a broad suite of policies to ensure that we can continue to address all aspects of the building and construction industry.

The SPEAKER: The member for Bathurst will come to order.

Mr ANOULACK CHANTHIVONG: Last week the Building Legislation Amendment Bill passed the House. It had cross-parliamentary support from the Opposition and from the crossbench. I thank all members for their support and contributions towards passing that bill, because it marks a pivotal moment in the Minns Labor Government's ongoing efforts to address trust and confidence in the building sector. On top of that, we are also taking decisive action around the NSW Building Commission and have significantly enhanced its powers and resources. The legislation is a testament to the Government's unwavering commitment to ensure that in New South Wales we have the highest standards of building quality.

Central to the bill are the improved enforcement powers of the Building Commission for class 1 buildings. For those who are untechnical, class 1 buildings are essentially freestanding homes, whereas class 2 are apartments. The bill will empower the building regulator to effectively manage and rectify buildings in their construction phase. Members may not be aware that prior to the passing of the legislation, rectification could be done only after a building was complete and after a complaint was made. That is not an effective model as a preventive and proactive way to address building defects and produce trust and confidence in the system. [Extension of time]

Giving the Building Commission proactive powers is a real game changer to ensure that we take a proactive approach to prevent defects and ensure that good builders become better builders as they move up the skill chain. Apart from the legislative powers, we are putting a down payment of $24 million into the Building Commission. On top of that, we are transferring specific professionals from Fair Trading. Over 400 workers were transferred to the new Building Commission to ensure that they have the resources, both financial and human, to tackle this significant issue and to build trust and confidence back into the sector.

The expansion of the authority and the allocation is crucial to ensure that we safeguard the interests of home owners and consumers to ensure that investment continues in the sector—creating jobs and opportunities and increasing the skill base of the sector. On top of that, we have a framework in the bill around encouraging greater uptake of decennial liability insurance—a 10-year warranty on the building. This is an important differentiation from the current regime. It is a 10-year warranty on the building, not on the builder. Even if the builder is no longer in business, consumers and owner-occupiers still have protection under decennial liability insurance.

New South Wales is leading the nation when it comes to building trust and confidence in the sector. The Building Legislation Amendment Bill strikes an essential balance between regulatory oversight and fostering a healthy and trustworthy building sector. It builds trust and confidence in the sector, increases consumer protection, and takes a proactive and preventative approach to ensuring that the people of New South Wales get the quality and quantity of buildings they deserve for a better future.