Building Ministers’ Meeting: Communiqué November 2021

Commonwealth, state and territory Building Ministers met today to discuss ongoing building and construction sector reform, including discussion of the Building Confidence National Framework.

Ministers met with industry representatives to discuss the implementation of upcoming changes to the National Construction Code that will come into effect from 1 September 2022. Ministers welcomed the opportunity to hear industry perspectives on upcoming changes as the building and construction industry recovers from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Industry leaders expressed a desire to collaborate with building ministers to support the built environment’s contribution to the national emissions reduction target.

Focus for 2022

Ministers discussed the future of the Building Ministers’ Meeting in the context of the Review of COAG Councils and Ministerial Forums. Ministers agreed to continue to work together closely next year to support the finalisation of the 2022 edition of the National Construction Code and provide oversight of the Australian Building Codes Board.

Ministers agreed to meet again in the first half of 2022 to discuss the draft residential energy efficiency provisions for the 2022 edition of the National Construction Code. Ministers acknowledged the significant amount of stakeholder and public feedback to the Consultation Regulation Impact Statement and asked the Australian Building Codes Board to work with Senior Officials to ensure feedback is considered; Building Ministers will look at this in the first half of 2022.

Energy efficiency and lower emissions buildings

In addition to work already underway, Ministers discussed the importance of an ambitious agenda on energy efficiency and a lower emissions built environment including making homes and buildings “future ready”. Ministers indicated they would further consider this work with industry in 2022.

Ventilation and aerosol transmission of COVID-19

Professor Alison McMillan PSM, Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer and Chair of the Infection Control Expert Group, presented to Ministers on the role of building ventilation in limiting the spread of respiratory diseases including COVID-19. Ministers discussed the importance of adequate ventilation in managing the risk of transmission of COVID-19 and the work that has been done by jurisdictions to minimise transmission in high-risk indoor environments.

Building Confidence Report

Ministers discussed the remaining deliverables under the Building Confidence National Framework and thanked the Australian Building Codes Board for its substantial effort since August 2019 in developing the outputs.

Ministers agreed that the outputs satisfy the requirements of the National Framework. States and territories will now give consideration to how the model guidance and frameworks may be applied within their own regulatory systems. This includes the National Registration Framework, and model guidance: for the ongoing education of building practitioners on applying the National Construction Code; a nationally consistent pathway for becoming a registered building surveyor; how fire authorities participate in building approval processes; and registration requirements for practitioners installing and certifying fire safety systems.

This follows on from a recent out-of-session process by Ministers where they agreed to the following outputs: an Auditing and Compliance Publication Framework; principles to improve building surveyor integrity and their role in enforcement; principles for Design Acceptance; an Independent Third Party Review Framework; and principles for mandatory inspections of building work.

Ministers discussed a draft Building Product Assurance Framework, developed by the Australian Buildings Code Board, which looked at possible opportunities to strengthen evidence requirements in the National Construction Code, improve information on appropriate product use in new buildings, increase sharing of intelligence between jurisdictions, and new approaches to enforcement and compliance. Ministers agreed that Senior Officials along with the Australian Buildings Code Board will undertake further work on this issue and will report back to Ministers in 2022 for consideration.

The Australian Buildings Code Board will publish a summary report of the Building Confidence National Framework on its website.

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