Acknowledging the “anger” and “frustration” of stakeholders, Jim Varghese AM urged the CCQB to “transform into a results-oriented statutory agency”. the observations of Mr. Varghese and no less than
17 reform recommendations are made in its report on the governance review of the CCQSB 2022 (the Varghese Report).
The Varghese report identifies ‘perceptions of bias and/or conflict of interest’ in performing multiple QBCC functions,1 and includes several recommendations that aim to improve the transparency of QBCC’s various functions and improve consistency in QBCC decision-making (including when sanctions are imposed).
Reform recommendations include:
- favor a ‘sustainable funding model »suggesting changes in royalties and license fees.2
- the use of a register of precedents to record decisions imposing sanctions, facilitating the application of similar sentences in similar circumstances.3
- notify complainants the outcome of their complaint, with reasons.4
- train CCQS staff so that they have the skills and knowledge necessary to assess CCSQ license applications.5
- establishing a Resolution Services Unitconsolidating the existing payment security (Equity in the Construction Industry Act) Arbitration register, the CCSQ Internal Review Unit and the existing mediation service (complaints of defective work).
The Resolution Services Unit would have “an ambitious goal to reduce dispute escalation at QCAT by 90%“.6 He would provide”end-to-end resolution services including both mediation and arbitration to resolve disputes relating to faulty construction works in a timely manner“. Allowing (or requiring) arbitration of domestic construction disputes would be a substantial change.seven In addition, mediations would no longer be limited to active contracts and would be undertaken by qualified mediators (rather than CCQB inspectors) .8
In response to the Varghese report, the Queensland Government confirmed this”supports all 17 recommendations (in principle) and commits to following up on the findings of the Independent Reviewer to implement reforms that reflect the desired outcomes.”
The following table summarizes Mr. Varghese’s 17 recommendations and the Queensland Government’s response:
|1.||Refocus the CCSQ’s regulatory role on licensing and industry compliance.||Supports this recommendation in principle and has placed some action items in the 90 day plan. The Department will continue to advance the QHWS review.|
|2.||Establish an Independent Mediation, Resolution and Review and Quarantine Unit within the CCQB.||Supports this recommendation in principle and requires a detailed business case.|
|3.||Reduce the size of QBC’s Board of Directors and realign metrics to demonstrate alignment with continuous improvement practices.||Supports this recommendation and will be implemented when the current term of the QBC Board of Directors expires on November 30, 2022.|
|4.||Realign the structure and recognize specialized skills.||Supports this recommendation and the Implementation Group will support QBBC to give effect to the recommendation.|
|5.||Enhance the reputation of the ACABQ based on consistency, transparency, fair and impartial decision-making||supports this recommendation and notes that the recent
Buildings Amendment and Other Acts Act 2022partially meets this recommendation.
|6.||Improve the transparency and accountability of the conflict of interest framework||Supports this recommendation and considers it a priority.|
|seven.||Invest in an integrated information management system that is contemporary, fit for purpose, and aligned with organizational functions.||Supports this recommendation in principle and requires a detailed business case|
|8.||Ensure strategic planning reflects government expectations of the regulator and supports continuous industry improvement||Accompanied without further comment|
|9.||Foster a culture of continuous improvement, respectful engagement and effective reporting|
|ten.||Strengthen and improve capacity for management, licensing, investigation and technical staffing||Supports this recommendation in principle and requires a detailed business case.|
|11.||Implement a comprehensive and public compliance and enforcement strategy.||Supports this recommendation in principle, but extent of reform depends on other recommendations and resource gaps. Also requires a detailed business case.|
|12.||Strengthen and develop the construction industry through effective education, support, information and advice.||Supports this recommendation in principle and recognizes that some legislative administrative reforms are needed.|
|13.||Embed cooperative and collaborative relationships with stakeholders that foster trust, improve customer service, leading to a better understanding of the operating environment.||Supports this recommendation and will take steps to improve clarity and understanding of the CCSQ’s regulatory role.|
|14.||Implement a contemporary and sustainable funding model to enable the CCSQ to effectively regulate the industry||Supports this recommendation in principle and calls for further analysis of costs and benefits needed to balance needs without unnecessarily increasing costs.|
|15.||Support independent review of the role of developers in Queensland’s building and construction industry||Accompanied without further comment|
|16.||Improve the building of resilience to the impacts of natural disasters|
|17.||Establish an implementation group to monitor and report on the progress of CCSQ review recommendations||Supports this recommendation and has appointed a dedicated implementation group. Group responsible for implementing review recommendations.|
The Department of Energy and Public Works also released a 90-day action plan to implement the recommendations.
Piper Alderman will continue to monitor any development and implementation of these recommendations in order to be in the best position to assist our customers.
1 On pages 6, 27, 30, 33, 36, 66 of the Varghese report
2 See page 63 of the Varghese report
3 See page 37 of the Varghese report
4 See page 38 of the Varghese report
5 See pages 50 to 53 of the Varghese report
6 See page 31 of the Varghese report
seven See article 32 of the QBCC law
8 See page 31 of the Varghese report
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.