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Canberra
Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Building laws pushback

Master Builders ACT (MBA) continues to push back on the ACT Government’s building laws, calling on Building Quality Minister Gordon Ramsay to delay the commencement of the latest bill for three months to allow for “genuine stakeholder communication”.

CEO Michael Hopkins has also said Master Builders ACT holds concerns that the new laws may conflict with Commonwealth Law, and create “unintended consequences for the Territory’s quality builders”.

“These proposed laws potentially break an important principle of Australian company law which separate the liability of individuals and companies,” he said.

“The MBA is calling on Minister Ramsay to release the legal advice he received that addresses the potential conflict between the proposed ACT law and any Federal law or regulation.”

The new laws, introduced into the Legislative Assembly on 24 October, would see company directors held personally liable for building defects in the ACT, among a raft of other measures. At the time, Mr Ramsay said the amendments would prevent corporations “deliberately avoiding their regulatory obligations by winding up their company”.

Mr Hopkins said laws “already exist” which allow the ACT Building Regulator to take disciplinary action against licensed builders and building companies to hold them responsible for the rectification of defective work.

“Aside from the potential to impact local employment, the introduction of these laws will cause compliance and insurance costs to increase and experienced directors will back away from the boards of local building companies,” he said.

Mr Ramsay’s office is aware of the pushback from Master Builders, and has no plans to release the legal advice. A spokesperson maintained the Government’s strong position on the issue, and said “Minister Ramsay has said time and time again that the community cannot rely on industry to reform industry”.

“The Government makes no apology for protecting Canberrans from dodgy operators who use sophisticated corporate structures to avoid their obligations to fix faulty work.”

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