Private building certifiers are being forced to foot the bill for the Federal Government’s failure to fix an emerging professional indemnity insurance issue.
National insurance giants have started cranking up insurance premiums for certifiers, with some reportedly increasing their costs by a staggering 226 per cent.
Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni said this was a national issue and he would be fighting for Queensland certifiers and the safety of all Queenslanders.
“The NSW Government has put the safety of its citizens at risk by stopping cladding assessments on private buildings,” Mr de Brenni said.
“We don’t think that’s a good idea.
“The insurance issue we’re seeing here is part of the bigger combustible cladding problem that has stemmed from decades of deregulation in the building and construction industry.
“There has been a relentless pursuit of cost-cutting, which has created a race to the bottom and confidence in the building integrity system has been undermined,” he said.
“We’re now seeing private companies making economic and business decisions that support this lack of confidence.
“It’s clear that the cladding crisis needs a national response when the insurance market is saying an entire profession is un-insurable – this is a national problem.
“We need to find a sustainable long-term answer to the problem, and the Queensland Government has a number of options currently being considered, but this problem also needs a national approach.
“We’re in danger of seeing an essential profession wiped out, and we cannot have industry and the Queensland community stripped of this vital service.
“I call on Minister Andrews, as Chair of the Building Ministers’ Forum, to lead from the front and help find a solution to this Australia-wide issue.”
“Last year month I wrote to Minister Andrews urging her to give this issue appropriate attention but my letter was met with silence.
“I’m following that letter up with a second letter, urgently requesting Minister Andrews to stand up and tackle the issue.”
Minister de Brenni said Queensland was leading the nation in its response to cladding concerns.
“The Safer Building combustible cladding checklist saw more than 20,000 private building owners register as part of the audit process, and more than 86 per cent have already been cleared from the process.
“So far, less than 20 buildings have been identified as having potentially combustible cladding, and in Part 3 of the process rectification of these buildings is mandatory.
“Queensland has a thorough process to identify potentially combustible cladding on private buildings and this process is working.
“I urge insurers to take this into consideration when setting premiums, and to consider the importance of certifiers to the building and construction industry.
“Queensland certifiers shouldn’t have to foot the bill for a national problem.
“This is why the Queensland Government has been working through the issue of insurers increasing premiums and is working closely with key industry stakeholders to find a local solution.
“Certifiers perform critical statutory functions, without certifiers, buildings cannot be occupied legally and the construction industry could come to a halt.
“We will not let this happen, and we will be doing all we can to find a solution and to help certifiers stay in business.
“Last month, I commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers to undertake a comprehensive report into the issue, and this report is due back in the coming weeks.
“The report will unpack the complexities of the issue and include a number of recommendations.
“I’ve been in ongoing discussions with representatives from the Insurance Council of Australia, the Australian Institute of Building Surveyors and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.
“This is also a key focus for my Ministerial Construction Council colleagues and the Building Ministers’ Forum.
“We need to act fast to find the best solution that provides certainty for certifiers, stability for industry stakeholders and safety assurances for all Queenslanders.”
Minister for Housing and Public Works, Minister for Digital Technology and Minister for Sport
The Honourable Mick de Brenni