The Andrews Labor Government is delivering greater protections for building and apartment owners under sweeping new changes introduced to Parliament today.
The Building and Environment Protection Legislation Amendment Bill will give stronger powers to the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) to investigate illegal phoenix activity, where companies deliberately go into administration to avoid liability for building work before re-emerging as a new entity.
The Bill strengthens the fit and proper person tests required for practitioner registration by incorporating financial probity requirements. This will allow greater scrutiny of company directors, secretaries and influential persons as part of the registration process.
The VBA will be able to refuse applications for new registration, or renewal of registration, if the applicant is suspected to have engaged in illegal phoenix activity at any time over the previous two years.
The Bill also expands existing suspension powers for building practitioners responsible for unsafe works to ensure that plumbers and architects can also face immediate suspension. This power was introduced for building practitioners in 2018 and has already been used by the VBA.
The Bill will also:
- modernise and strengthen the Architects Registration Board of Victoria to ensure that the Board can effectively respond to present and future challenges and improve consumer protection and confidence in the industry; and
- wind up the Building Practitioners Board and transfer its outstanding inquiries to the VBA for a more streamlined, efficient assessment.
While the Labor Government is doing all it can to identify and stop illegal phoenix activity, the Federal Government needs to make changes to national company laws for it to be properly stamped out.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Planning Richard Wynne
“This bill is about giving Victorians more confidence in the building sector and helping the VBA to weed out those doing the wrong thing.”
“Plumbers and architects can face immediate suspension under these new laws, as well as not having their industry registration renewed.”
“We’re taking action to help curb illegal phoenix activity and it’s about time our Commonwealth counterparts did the same.”