BPB reviews conflict-of-interest provisions for Council accredited certifiers

Well, we are reluctant to get involved in this debate too heavily because observations we made last year about the inappropriateness of a Council assessing its own development applications drew some criticism. Some of it was very vigorous - we had no idea how things work in the bush, we didn't care about how council costs would blow out if they had to get someone else from another council to come and look at the job, etc.

We understand now that it is cheaper for a Council to use its own staff to assess its own applications and certify their employer complies with the conditions of consent. We think it still makes the industry vulnerable to attacks from private certifiers who we complain are prejudiced when they accept money from the people for whom they are doing the job.

We also know that there are employees in the industry who would welcome prohibition in this area because they had been pressured to approve and certify things they would have rather not approved or certified. It's a bit of a two-edged sword really.

The BPB has temporary guidelines in place and has written to all councils, and e-mailed every council employee who is an accredited certifier and put five options:

Option 1: No exemption for any council

Option 2: Exempt regional and rural councils only

Option 3: Exempt all councils (for work) up to a certain value

Option 4: Partial exemption to allow councils to act as the Principle Certifying Authority

Option 5: Existing exemption (permit Council accredited certifiers to undertake Council and council employees’ certification work), or

Option 6: Another option.

The Committee of Management considered this potentially no-win question at the meeting on 11 February and we will be advising the BPB that we believe it appropriate for Council employees to certify applications filed by other employers of the Council and that, when it comes to assessing and certifying the Council’s own Development Applications, we encourage regional cooperation to ensure the proper management of conflicts of interest.

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