Canberra's property developers could be subjected to a strict licensing regime, if the ACT government bows to the wishes of Labor party members and adopts the measure.
And that could happen sooner rather than later, with Minister for Building Quality Improvement Gordon Ramsay saying the government was already assessing options to license property developers, as it sought to continue cracking down on "dodgy operators" in the construction sector.
But the group representing developers has warned against the idea, saying it will drive up costs and delay projects.
If introduced, the ACT would be the only jurisdiction in which property developers required licences.
ACT Labor members supported a resolution at Saturday's party conference calling on their parliamentary colleagues to introduce tough new regulations for developers.
The proposal was put forward by Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union organiser Zach Smith, who said if the ACT government was serious about addressing the problem's plaguing Canberra's construction sector it needed to "start from the top".
At present, construction industry professionals including builders, electricians and surveyors all require licenses to work in the ACT, meaning their conduct can be regulated.
But property developers aren't subject to the same level of regulation. That needs to change, according to the powerful construction union.
"The people who generate and derive the biggest benefit from developments have to be subject to more scrutiny," Mr Smith told the conference.
"Builder/developers and property developers have managed to skate through so far with minimal scrutiny."
According to the resolution passed at Saturday's conference, the licensing regime would guard against "phoenixing", a practice in which a company deliberately folds in order to avoid paying debts, before re-emerging under a different name.
It would also require developers to "demonstrate" that they had the financial capacity to complete proposed developments, and rectify defects should they arise.
Developers would also be forced to establish a "project trust fund" to secure payments for contractors, agree to not impose "unrealistic timeframes" on construction work and commit to not engage in "deceptive or misleading conduct" in the course of marketing a project.
Resolutions passed at the conference form ACT Labor's policy platform, however they need to be supported by the parliamentary party, specifically cabinet, before they can become government policy.
Mr Ramsay said the government was already "examining options for a proposed developer licensing scheme in the ACT" as part of reforms across the wider building supply chain.
"Industry has been clearly put on notice that the government will not tolerate building work that was not of a high standard - and neither will the community. This was also reflected at the recent ACT Labor conference," Mr Ramsay said.
The construction union's ACT secretary. Jason O'Mara, said it was "about time that the government got serious about regulating developers".
"Developers are having a larger say in time frames, which trades are to be used and overall management of the project," Mr O'Mara said. "If developers are going to exercise that level of control than they also need to be held accountable if things go wrong."
Urban Development Institute of Australia NSW chief executive Steve Mann said burdening developers with licensing arrangements would "inevitably hurt consumers".
"We are keen to work with Labor on the issues for robust solutions but will not accept a policy that tries to blame shift or further delay projects by elongating timeframes when there are robust safety measures, licence and accountability frameworkds already in place," Mr Mann said.
Property Council ACT executive director Adina Cirson said rather than attempt ACT-specific reform, Mr Ramsay should be focused on helping steer a national solution to problems in the construction sector, as building ministers agreed to do last week.
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