Building commission corruption endangers public

Victorian Ombudsman George Brouwer found the Victorian building industry regulator to be rife with maladministration, cronyism and misuse of public funds in a report to Parliament last Wednesday.  The regulator has allowed sub-standard builders to be licensed, putting the public at “substantial risk”.

Mr Brouwer also found the Victorian Building Commission spent at least $1.5 million of public funds on “questionable entertainment, hospitality and sponsoring industry bodies’ events and awards”.

The report indicates that builders who had either not taken, or previously failed, competency tests were granted a licence.  It also stated that Builders  Practitioners Board registrar, Peter Brilliant, used his position to grant licences to people he knew. As a result Planning Minister Matthew Guy said all applications approved by Mr Brilliant would be reviewed, which could amount to thousands of licences between 1998 and this year. Applications found to have been inappropriately approved would trigger ”a full audit of the builder’s registration and associated projects”.

The report highlights the recent decision to abolish the building commission, the Plumbing  Industry Commission and the Architects Registration Board. They will be replaced  next year by a new body called the Victorian Building Authority.

Let’s hope this reform is a more effective use of public funds and leads to increased consumer protection and public safety.