Master Builders welcome new licenses, call for government to do more
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Master Builders welcome new licenses, call for government to do more

Master Builders ACT has welcomed the government's announcement of new tests for prospective builders, but said that more needs to be done to improve building quality in the territory.

Master Builders CEO Michael Hopkins has called for the ACT government to implement all the recommendations from a 2015 review into the building industry, as well as extending licensing and training requirements.

Sub-contractors should be required to have a license to work in the ACT, the Master Builders Association said.

Sub-contractors should be required to have a license to work in the ACT, the Master Builders Association said.

Photo: Erin Jonasson

The ACT government announced on Monday that all builders applying for Class A, B and C licenses for the first time will be required to sit a test, with builders with substantiated complaints against them also targeted for testing when their licenses come up for renewal.

Mr Hopkins said Master Builders supported the testing for licensing, but also called for licensing to be made compulsory for trade contractors and sub-contractors.

"On a modern day construction site, the majority of the work is being completed by sub-contractors and trade contractors. The builder is obviously managing the site but most of the actual building work itself is being done by trade contractors. And at the moment, apart from plumbers and electricians most of those trade contractors don't require a license in the ACT, unlike other states where they would require a license."

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Mr Hopkins said that trade contractors on building sites in NSW, Victoria and Queensland required a license, where they don't in the ACT.

Master Builders also want continuous training requirements to be introduced for builders to ensure their skills are up to scratch.

"We would also like to see a system of continuing professional development and training implemented for the building industry that system of ongoing training such as would exist in many other industries," Mr Hopkins said

He also took a swipe at larger operators, accusing them of cutting corners and edging out smaller family-run businesses.

"What a number of our members tell us, a number of operators who would be delivering good buildings, report to us is that they’re quite often being undercut on prices by other operators and that has the impact of bringing quality in the whole industry down. These are small local family businesses, often who don't necessarily have big balance sheets to compete with others who may be willing to cut a corner on safety or cut a corner on quality," he said.

Master Builders will make a submission to the current inquiry into building standards, focusing on the previous recommendations made to the government, as well as their licensing and training proposals.

“The MBA wants to see building quality in the ACT improve and it requires a co-operative effort from industry and government in order to protect consumers,” Mr Hopkins said.

Sally Whyte is a reporter for The Canberra Times covering the public service.

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