Laws to hold directors of construction companies liable for building defects could apply to existing developments, ACT minister Gordon Ramsay has suggested.
The move will give hope to victims of shoddy construction work, who have been left to fund repair works after companies deliberately wound up to escape sanctions.
Mr Ramsay fronted the Assembly's building quality inquiry on Wednesday morning, revealing more details about proposed new laws to hold company directors to account for sub-standard work.
During the two-hour hearing, Mr Ramsay was also forced to defend against Opposition claims that the government had been "faffing around" over a registration scheme for engineers, which is still to be introduced five years after it was promised.
He told the hearing that the proposed new director liability laws would "send a signal" to people who sought to evade sanctions.
"We don't believe that it's appropriate for people to be able to make money but yet when a liability arises [be able to] wind a company up," Mr Ramsay said.
"It's important to send that signal through, that if you want to be involved you need not only be looking at the benefits which come out of it but carry your liabilities with that."
Mr Ramsay said the practice which the laws would seek to punish was not the same as illegal phoenixing, although the two were related.
Asked by committee member and Labor backbencher Michael Pettersson if the laws could capture directors linked to existing problem buildings, Mr Ramsay had an open mind.
"I certainly would not want to preempt conversations and debates that would happen in the Assembly ... but I believe there is scope for us [look at] a range of buildings," he said.
Master Builders Association of the ACT chief executive Michael Hopkins welcomed the proposed new laws, but said it was important that efforts to deal with "rogue operators" did not impose extra burdens and costs on the majority of company directors.
The inquiry's ninth and final public hearing gave the committee the opportunity to grill senior government officials on the various allegations aired throughout the six-month probe.
Committee chair and Liberal frontbencher Jeremy Hanson said owners and industry groups had told the inquiry that before the recent "flurry" of activity, Access Canberra's enforcement of building standards had been "weak or non-existent".
The government had also been accused of acting slowly, or not at all, on key reports and recommendations for reform, Mr Hanson told the witnesses.
"There is a real problem out there for a lot people because somebody hasn't been doing their job," Mr Hanson said.
"What are you going to deal with it? Do you accept and acknowledge that you have a stake in this?"
Mr Ramsay said the courts determined financial liability, and if they were to ever rule that the government was culpable then that would "have to be adhered to".
Construction Occupations Registrar Ben Green said it was unfair to suggest the government had "done nothing" to police building quality in the past.
ACT Chief Planner Ben Ponton noted the 43 building reforms being rolled out stemmed from a review commissioned in 2013.
The plight of the Elara apartment owners was raised again, with Opposition planning spokesman Mark Parton asking if the government would offer them financial compensation or "just walk away".
Mr Ramsay said the proposed director liability laws were intended to "address" similar cases to Elara, where the builder went into liquidation before repair work was done.
He would not be drawn on the owners' compensation claim while their case was before the federal court, but said he felt "deeply for them".
During the hearing, the government also faced pressure over its failure to create a long-promised register for engineers.
The government had committed to introduce a register by 2014, in responses to the recommendations of a construction safety report published two years earlier.
On Wednesday, senior planning directorate official Vanessa Morris told the committee that the government was still in the process of developing the model, with further consultation scheduled for this financial year.
Mr Hanson was taken aback by the apparent lack of progress.
"It just seems an extraordinary long time for action to happen," Mr Hanson said.
"There seems to be a number of recommendations in that sort of space, where the government says 'yes we're going to do this by the end of year' and then we're still faffing around.
"In that interim period, you've got industry out there wondering what the hell is going on, to be frank."
Mr Ramsay said it was "unfair" to say the government had been "faffing around", insisting the proposed reforms required a "substantial" amount of work.
The committee is due to hand down its final report in the coming months.