By Theresa Goodwin
Senators on both sides of the political divide are calling for the introduction of policies to better regulate the construction sector, citing several instances where homeowners have been forced to go to court to get justice for failed projects.
Government Senator Aziza Lake was the first to raise concerns on Monday during a debate on the Architects Profession Amendment Act which seeks to bring more formality to the architecture industry.
Lake said local construction companies should also be subject to tighter controls.
“Honestly, you hear too many nightmare stories with persons about contractors, having contractors in court, and so we need to implement some standards in terms of what they can and cannot do,” she said.
“Anybody can say I am a contractor these days but there is nothing to show your track record. Just as we have laws that deal with architects, we need to look at contractors. It is very important.”
United Progressive Party Senator, Shawn Nicholas, agreed, saying some contractors “are bleeding the people of this country”.
“While we seek to make amends on one side, we have to look at it holistically, and those who implement the plans that are laid before them, the responsibility must lie there as well,” she said.
“We need to make sure that whatever is impeding the Contractors Bill and preventing it from coming to Parliament is handled so that homebuilders and others who are engaged in construction are all protected.”
Senator Maureen Hyman Payne also chimed in, calling for the Development Control Authority (DCA) to be more forceful in its work.
“DCA needs to be more vigilant. You have contractors doing all sorts of things and they need to be regulated, but we have a Planning Act and if DCA does not check and implement enforcements, the whole thing would collapse,” Hyman said.
“You have contractors who ripped people off and it is not because I am bitter, maybe I am a victim too. So, I am begging DCA to do their job; it is outrageous,” she added.
The Senate approved the changes to the Architects Profession Amendment Act, with Leader of Government Business Mary-Claire Hurst hinting that other legislation will also be amended to address concerns regarding the construction sector.