Hard to choose, clowns or dunces, but it was all the Board’s fault

Well, bring in the clowns, because it was the BPB itself, and not any of its staff, that was responsible for the contract requiring the identification by councils of the accredited certifier of a particular application.

No one really knew where the Building Professionals Amendment Regulation 2013 came from. Local Government NSW (the new name for the Local Government and Shires Association) didn’t know anything about it, neither did we, and neither, it seems, did anyone else.

Usually we would get a letter from the BPB advising us of initiatives that might have an impact on our members. This happens because the BPB understands that the overwhelming majority of accredited certifiers are working in local government and it makes sense to get depa into the tent rather than leave us outside. They did it on 19 March with an email to which was attached correspondence about proposed changes to CPD and the Code of Conduct, requesting our input, but for some reason they didn’t do it with the proposed legislative changes conveyed to everyone, without warning, in the BPB Bulletin of 14 March. Check it out yourself and make a submission – BPBulletin 22 March.

The Board thought it made sense to establish contractual arrangement between individual private certifiers and an applicant and a contractual arrangement also between “the employer of an accredited certifier” and an applicant.  At least we assume they thought it made sense, because no one has given us any information at all other than what was contained in the 14 March Bulletin.

The BPB has always operated under the illusion that you can create a level playing field on “certification” activities regardless of whether those functions are carried out by an accredited certifier operating alone, a certifier operating in one of the businesses providing the services, or a Council. But of course you can’t do that because the businesses providing the services are solely focused on those sort of services but councils are qualitatively different organisations with a scope and range of activities well beyond the limited role of those handful of businesses employing certifiers.

And no businesses employ the number of accredited employees that councils do - 23, for example, at Blacktown and a significant number of councils with more than 10. But none of those organisations were asked about the impact of requiring the identification of the name and accreditation number of any employee who is proposed, at the date of the contract, will carry out certification work under the contract”. They should be asked now.

This proposal affects all those councils which don’t provide one employee for the whole job and, given that the ICAC likes the idea that one person NOT carry out all the “certification work under the contract”, we are entitled to ask how much pineapple cake the Board had eaten that day? Something really mind-altering must’ve happened to come up with such a bureaucratically unworkable, time-wasting and frustrating initiative. And one where uncharacteristically the industry parties with an interest in the effective provision of these services were not consulted before the new clause 19A was introduced.

It’s almost like the Board wants to frustrate and distract local government rather than assist.

Neil Cocks is off on a secondment in the Department at the moment and the Acting Director of the BPB is a Dr Gabrielle Wallace. Apparently she has been a building surveyor somewhere or other over the years and we chased her up last week because we hadn’t heard anything back after our email exchange with Neil on 15 March. Here is her response:

From: Building Professionals Board []
Sent: Thursday, 4 April 2013 2:15 PM

Subject: Written contracts

Dear Ian

As you noted in our discussion this morning, the last BPBulletin (26/2/13) contained information on the commencement of the EP&A Amendment Act 2012. It contained interim advice on written contracts, an information sheet and 2 Q&A papers.

The second Q&A paper has details pertaining specifically to councils. Please note there are 3 template contracts, including one for councils. Page 3 of the information sheet noted changes to section 73A of the EP&A Act and clause 19A of the BP Amendment Regulation 2013. The links to the legislation are available under More information on page 4 of the information sheet.

As discussed, we are shortly to release a third Q&A which should address further concerns.


Dr Gabrielle Wallace A /Director
Building Professionals Board
Ph:  02 9873 8543
Fax: 02 9873 8107

We know that many of you responded to our email telling us that we were right, how hopeless the BPB was and we should jam it right up them, but there is no substitute for the BPB being overwhelmed with your responses, rather than sending them to us. They think we are trouble anyway, so it’s better for  councils to be pursuing them about putting this regulation on hold until such time as there is an opportunity for the industry to discuss it with the BPB. Send responses to LG NSW as well.

19A should be amended to leave councils out entirely or to treat them differently.

And as much as we all would like to meet with them, on this occasion they should leave the pineapple cake at home.

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