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Sunday, 30 December 2018

Home owners will be better protected from dodgy certifiers under the NSW Government’s zero tolerance approach to the cowboys in the industry. 

Minister for Better Regulation Matt Kean revealed a four point strategy, that builds on recent legislation and strong penalties, in an effort to fix Labor’s bungled privatisation of certifiers.

“There has been growing community concern about dodgy certifiers and, while the cause of the recent problems at the Opal Tower remains unknown, what’s happened there has put a spotlight on the industry again,” Mr Kean said.

“Make no mistake – the problems in the certification industry were created by Labor with the botched privatisation leaving the industry open to cowboys and shonks who have cast a shadow on the entire profession.”

“The majority of certifiers are doing the right thing, but it’s time for the cowboys to go.”

Mr Kean said it was unacceptable for certifiers to sign off on buildings that aren’t fit to live in, aren’t up to standard and aren’t what hardworking mums and dads paid for.

“We have been working hard to clean up Labor’s mess and this plan is another step towards doing that, in addition to the other reforms that we have made,” Mr Kean said.

The four point plan to improve the certification industry includes:

  • The biggest compliance operation in the industry’s history, with 25- 30% of the industry to be audited every year in a strike force style approach;
  • A zero tolerance approach to dodgy certifiers, including a new disciplinary policy that will see certifiers immediately kicked out of the industry for corruption or negligently signing off on a building which is unsafe or structurally unsound;
  • Better protection for strata buildings, with certifiers unable to work on new strata developments if they have breached the code of conduct in any way, in the previous 12 months, regarding building quality; and
  • Increased transparency, which will include more information for homeowners about a certifier’s disciplinary record, on an enhanced name and shame register. Prospective buyers of off the plan developments will be provided with information about a certifier’s history.

Mr Kean said this strategy followed several measures and tougher penalties that have already been introduced.

“In October this year, I completed the first step in cleaning up the industry by passing new laws to mandate a code of conduct for certifiers, crack down on conflicts of interest and give Fair Trading the powers to get to the bottom of complaints,” Mr Kean said.

“There are tougher penalties, including fines of up to $1.1 million and/or two years jail for certifiers who issue false or misleading certificates and I also released an options paper on further steps to protect home owners.”

Minister for Planning & Housing and Special Minister of State Anthony Roberts said the Government remains vigilant monitoring the situation at Opal Tower, and its first concern is for affected residents.

“Our investigators are still on site conducting their own independent assessment of the cause of the fault and we expect more updates from them soon.” Mr Roberts said.

“We’ll continue to be in contact with the developer of the site to ensure legal obligations to the residents are fulfilled and we will crackdown harshly on any failures in that regard.

“It is still too early to say what exactly caused the problem at Opal Tower but this announcement by colleague Minister Kean today, and this Government’s track record on dealing with serious issues in the planning and housing regime in recent years show we’re ready for anything.”

MEDIA: Richard Hodge | Minister Kean | 0428 952 161

John Macgowan | Minister Roberts | 0409 403 773