Notable construction and planning reform

Updates include new APCC procurement guidelines, amendments to Qld Building and Construction Industry Payments Act, and second phase of WA planning reform

This month saw some notable changes to construction and planning legislation, both on national and state levels.

These include the launch of new procurement guidelines for the construction and building sector, amendments to the Queensland Building and Construction Industry Payments Act 2004, and further advancement of WA planning reform.

New procurement guidelines

The national launch of new procurement guidelines for the construction and building sector is expected to help protect home owners from faulty materials and products.

Following the recent recall of faulty electrical wiring installed in approximately 40,000 homes, Bob Baldwin, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry, launched The Procurement of Construction Products: A guide to achieving compliance.

The new Australasian Procurement and Construction Council’s (APCC) guide was a collaborative effort by some 30 key building and construction industry stakeholders and the APCC.

At the time of release, Minister Baldwin said the recall of wiring served as a good reminder that faulty material should be identified early on before reaching the market. It is expected that all stakeholders in the construction process will benefit from the free guide, which highlights how to identify non-compliant building and construction products.

Qld construction payments

The Queensland Government introduced key changes to the Building and Construction Industry Payments Act 2004 (BCIPA) on September 11, 2014.

The key reforms relate to the establishment of an independent Adjudication Registry within the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC), the introduction of a 'dual model' claim regime which grants extended timeframes for large or complex claims, and acknowledging the industry shutdown over the Christmas period.

The reforms come after a lengthy period of consultation with industry stakeholders, and the Wallace Review – a report by Mr Andrew Wallace, a barrister and adjudicator to the Minister for Housing and Public Works. The Wallace Review included 49 recommendations for consideration by the Queensland Government.

According to the Property Council of Australia (PCA), the BCIPA amendments “will ensure fair and equitable statutory securities for all parties involved in construction contracts”.

WA planning reform

Last month the Western Australian planning reform entered into its second phase.

Being described as the largest planning reform in the state since 1964, the WA Government says the changes could considerably speed up development approvals and streamline the planning system.

Following a process of consultation with key stakeholders and a public submission period, the department released its blueprint for phase two, which includes 14 initiatives. Some of these initiatives include a metropolitan region scheme; a concurrent amendment of region planning schemes and local planning schemes; a more streamlined structure plan process; and the development of a three-track system for all types of planning applications.

In phase one, the Government revised its strategic planning framework, established Development Assessment Panels to replace local authority and Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) decision-making on substantial developments, and inserted a mechanism in the Planning and Development Act 2005 to keep local planning schemes up to date with state planning policies.

Phase one also saw amendments to section 76 of the Planning and Development Act to clarify that the Minister is able to direct a local government to amend its local planning scheme.