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Economics References Committee
19/07/2017
Non-conforming building products - use of non-compliant external cladding materials in Australia

O'BRIEN, Dr Darryl, National Technical Committee representative, Non-Conforming Building Products, Australian Institute of Building Surveyors

OLDS, Mr Troy, Board Director, Australian Institute of Building Surveyors

TUXFORD, Mr Timothy, National President, Australian Institute of Building Surveyors

CHAIR: Before I call on our next group of witnesses, I note the presence of media in the room. Gentlemen, I take it you have no objections to being filmed? Okay. I ask cameramen to follow the established media guidelines, to follow the instructions of the committee secretariat and to ensure that senators' and witnesses' laptops and personal papers are not filmed.

I now welcome representatives from the Australian Institute of Building Surveyors. Thank you very much for appearing before the committee today. You have provided us with copies of your opening statements. I take it that you have no objection to those being tabled and accepted by the committee?

Mr Tuxford : Not at all.

CHAIR: Thank you very much. I invite you to make a brief opening statement. Mr Tuxford, would you like to kick off?

Mr Tuxford : On behalf of the board and members of the Australian Institute of Building Surveyors, I thank the committee for the opportunity to make a written submission and to appear before this public hearing to represent the profession of building surveying. In Australia, it is now known that the use of non-compliant cladding is not limited to a few isolated cases. Media reports indicate that in New South Wales up to 2,500 buildings could have dangerous cladding on them, while anecdotal evidence in Victoria suggests there could be thousands of buildings in that state. The Queensland government has recently convened an audit task force to assess buildings with aluminium composite cladding constructed some time ago. That study is going to be looking at buildings that were constructed over a 10-year period between 1994 and 2004. This is a systemic problem and detailed research and investigation needs to identify the root cause of why non-conforming external wall cladding has been installed on so many buildings in Australia over the past 30 years.

In our submission, we have identified some reasons that we think could be the basis of that and I will just briefly go through them now: incorrect and misleading marketing of the various products; a historic acceptance by building practitioners that the material was non-combustible and compliant; confusion and inconsistency with the application of the National Construction Code; ambiguities in the National Construction Code that permit differing interpretations; variations in the National Construction Code over time, with an increasing reliance on performance-based solutions in lieu of deemed-to-satisfy provisions; compliant products are being specified and approved but then are possibly being substituted during the construction phase; possibly incorrect, fraudulent or inadequate documentation and certificates relied on; a lack of knowledge of building practitioners in the design, construction and industry section basis; and also the demise of the former clerk of works role.

Building surveyors have a crucial role to play in the building regulatory system and we want to contribute positively to finding solutions to the current issues. For this reason, our written submission contains a number of written recommendations, and I draw the senators' attention to those recommendations. Over the years, governments have introduced measures to cut red tape and entered into free trade agreements with other countries, leading to a great variety of products in the marketplace. As is readily evident in a number of our cities across the country, the landscape of the built environment has changed significantly in recent times. These changes have brought about a number of issues for all building practitioners. For example, an emerging area of concern for the regulatory system and consumers is the issue of professional indemnity insurance. The current public debate on external cladding is already having a negative impact, with AIBS recently being advised that some insurance companies are inserting exclusion clauses for external cladding and non-complying building products into their policies.

AIBS believes there is a clear need for regulatory reform. But unlike the current situation where each state is undertaking their own individual reforms, there needs to be a more harmonised and consistent national approach. Reform should focus on such things as a more consistent approach across borders to mandatory inspection and auditing regimes, along with the licensing and registration of building professionals and practitioners. We all need to improve to keep pace with the modern building industry. That means all of us: regulators, suppliers and basically all professionals involved, including building surveyors. What are we doing to ensure best practice among building surveyors into the future?

Right now, AIBS is developing a professional standards scheme for building surveyors. We expect this scheme will provide increased consumer protection and contribute to an improved building regulatory system in Australia. A professional standards scheme will further establish the competencies and skills required of a building surveyor. At present, it varies from state to state and in some jurisdictions are not clearly defined. However, for the scheme to be successful, it needs to be supported by all governments and regulators. Finally, I would like to emphasise that the Australian public must be protected through safe, compliant buildings and that will only be achieved through buy-in by everyone involved in the building and construction industry working together to improve the system and the professional practices across the board. Thank you again for this opportunity to appear before this committee. We hope, through our submissions and recommendations, we can make a positive contribution to addressing the issues related to the use of non-conforming building products and non-compliant wall cladding.

Dr O'Brien : I would like to take the opportunity to thank the committee for taking the time to listen to my evidence and my position on this. In the Middle Ages the Roman Catholic Church introduced the concept of papal indulgences: a means by which good works on earth could lead to immediate salvation. By the 16th century this practice had evolved to a situation by which indulgences were sold as a form of confessional insurance to the faithful. In 2017 and we may be sceptical that payment to a higher authority could provide the faithful with insurance for the afterlife, but in many ways our reliance on certification and test reports for building materials is similarly based on faith not evidence.

The failure of the product testing and certification structure for building materials represents a systemic failure of regulatory authorities to respond to the fundamental shift from domestic supply chains to a global supply network. To illustrate this point, comparison with the 1990 version of the Building Code of Australia—the first uniform national code—evidence of suitability rules that govern building material compliance with today's show only minor changes and housekeeping amendments to the rules. But, in 1990, in Australia, we manufactured the following motor vehicle brands: Holden, Ford, Toyota, Mitsubishi and Nissan. Today, only Holden is left and, unfortunately, they are ceasing domestic operations later this year. This fundamental change in the manufacturing base in response to globalisation means that in 2017 the great majority of products emerging and entering the domestic market come from overseas supplied networks.

I have been personally involved in researching the issue of non-conforming building products since 2013, and my PhD thesis examined the ability of the Building Code of Australia to respond to change. So, in short, my testimony today is based on evidence not opinion. Importantly, whilst today we are discussing the reasons for and the prevalence of non-conforming external cladding materials in Australia, to a large extent this represents the canary in the coalmine in relation to non-conforming building products. If there are significant incidents of noncompliance in external cladding in the domestic market there is no reason to imagine the same concerns to not exist for a range of systems and products that comprise the modern Australian building. This is because the same systems and laws that allow the importation and use of non-complying external cladding apply to all other building products.

Building surveyors take our role in ensuring that buildings the community live and work in are safe and healthy extremely seriously. However, to do this we need effective tools and processes, including a more stringent inspection and testing regime for high-risk building products. I am acutely aware of the valuable time of the committee today and I will again take this opportunity to thank you for the opportunity to make a submission and answer any questions you may have.

CHAIR: Thank you very much, Dr O'Brien. Mr Tuxford, I suppose the elephant in the room, in a sense, is that most people would think that building surveyors are the people who take final responsibility for a building being safe. You've pointed to a lot of other issues that we should look at, and throughout the course of this hearing we've heard quite commonly people say, 'There's somebody else responsible. There are other problems in the supply chain that are causing problems.' What do you say to the common conception that the building surveyors are the people that should ultimately sign off and say a building is safe?

Mr Tuxford : I think it goes back to looking at how big the problem is and how long the problem's been going on for. That's the reason we've put in our different thoughts in regard to what could have led to this. Talking about external wall cladding, the building surveyor can only visually inspect the external wall cladding and rely on certification in regard to that cladding. They're not the body that has purchased the material, they're not the body that has installed the material, so there is limited control that they have in that regard. As I said in my opening address and as in the written submission, the issue really needs to be investigated in detail so that we know exactly where it's failing. As Dr O'Brien said, is it failing at the borders? Is it failing with certification? Is it failing with the testing? We need to understand that so that we can get to the root cause of the problem and rectify the problem.

CHAIR: It would appear that the failure is across the board. There are failings across the whole of the system. Given the fact that we've got globalisation of the supply chain, deregulation of testing, technology changing, products changing, standards unable to keep up with those changes, we have a potentially deadly cocktail here. You have come up with some suggestions. Ultimately, should there be national oversight of this problem? In my view there should be, but I'm interested in your thoughts on this.

Mr Tuxford : I think that the basis of our submission is that, yes, there needs to be a national approach. It needs to be harmonisation at the national level. In our submission we identify some variations in the different systems. It's a very complex matter when you look at all the different regulatory systems and go into detail in such a short space of time with what the variations are. But it doesn't make sense that there is that inconsistency and lack of harmonisation across the entire nation.

CHAIR: In terms of the products that you're looking at—and your building surveyors are signing off on the use of products—we're hearing that the certification system is part of the problem. Can you rely on CodeMark and WaterMark in your work?

Mr Tuxford : I just might ask Mr Olds to respond to this question.

Mr Olds : Our position would be that we can rely on CodeMark and WaterMark as a system. But I think part of the problem is it's such a slow, difficult, costly, inconsistent process. Whilst you can rely on what is there, it needs to be improved. It needs to be more efficient, in the timely manner that products are coming to market, to ensure that it works for everyone in the practice.

Mr Tuxford : Senator, I will maybe also just pick up on something that you raised in that question. You talked about certification. A problem that we have with our profession is that the term 'certification', when referring to products, gets thrown around quite a lot. People see that as being certification by the building surveyor rather than by appropriate testing authorities. That's something that we have highlighted as well in our submission.

CHAIR: Yes, I know. But in your own statement—and correct me if I'm wrong—yes, you have referred to 'fraudulent or inadequate documentation and certificates'. So, Mr Olds, you're telling us that you can rely on CodeMark and WaterMark, but you're coming across these fairly significant problems with the system.

Mr Olds : CodeMark as it's designed to be used and operated, I think you can rely on it. But I think the problem with false documentation is companies, products and suppliers who are doctoring up documents and supplying them to the system which can't be controlled. If you could have a CodeMark system where it's all electronic, it's all online and a building surveyor can or a product manufacturer or an architect or whatever could go onto that system and know that, in that one portal, it's 100 per cent right, then I think you could rely on that.

CHAIR: If we are talking about the hypothetical situation, that's alright. But, in the real world, it's not working; isn't that correct?

Dr O'Brien : I will just respond to that. I think we need to recognise that, with the evidence of suitability, CodeMark is just one method that you can use to demonstrate product compliance. There are also registered testing authority results, JAS-ANZ product certification and expert judgement, and it actually says 'any other means', so it's very open-ended as to what evidence can be provided to demonstrate compliance. In relation to testing and certification, I think that's more so where there might be evidence of fraudulent documentation, because the more that companies go online to make this material available and open and accountable the more it provides an opportunity for less scrupulous people, particularly overseas, to use that as a template to provide documentation that purports to show compliance.

Senator XENOPHON: Do you believe that fraud is widespread?

Dr O'Brien : I would not like to make a comment on that because I do not think enough research has been done into that issue, and I think it is an area that does require some urgent attention to see the prevalence of non-conforming product and documentation in the Australian marketplace.

CHAIR: The problem is that nobody is doing that, and who is actually responsible for it seems to be a grey area. Who do you say should be doing it?

Dr O'Brien : That's correct. Border Force, to my knowledge, are only there to intercept illegal goods entering the country. To my knowledge, there is not a national response. At a state level, there seem to be gaps between the offices of fair trading and some of the building regulatory bodies. You would be aware that there is a draft bill in Queensland for the Queensland Building and Construction Commission to undertake this surveilling. That is a very good first step. In some jurisdictions, at the moment, it would be the individual building surveyor who would have to take on the role of the crown to assess product conformity. Obviously, even a local authority would not have the resources to undertake that investigation—nor should they, in my view.

CHAIR: Are the situations where building surveyors are leant on to sign off on buildings that are not safe, where the surveyor has little option but to sign off to say that they are safe?

Mr Tuxford : I have no evidence of that, but I think it would be naive to say that it may not happen. But I am not aware of there even being any proceedings by any of the regulators to indicate that that is the case. And I think that is where we would look to try and find that sort of proof.

Senator KIM CARR: Why would a regulator take it up?

Mr Tuxford : Because the regulator is the one who accredits or licences the certifier.

Senator KIM CARR: But there is no evidence that anyone has ever been prosecuted for fraudulent presentation of documentation—and, in this country, fraud still remains a crime. There is no evidence that anyone who has signed off on a bodgie certification has ever been prosecuted. No-one who has put in unsafe materials has ever been prosecuted. Why would a regulator in this country take any interest whatsoever in taking these matters forward?

Mr Tuxford : Sorry, Senator Carr, I think we have crossed wires. The question put was whether building surveyors, as accredited certifiers who are doing the final occupation certificate on a building, have had put pressure on them—

Senator KIM CARR: I understand what the question was.

Mr Tuxford : What I am saying is that those building surveyors, who are accredited by state regulators, are held to task by those regulators. There is a list of various actions that are taken against the accredited certifier by the individual state regulators. As it stands at the moment, it is their role to take action if there is evidence of that. I am just saying that I am not aware of any evidence of it but it would be naive to say that it possibly does not happen.

CHAIR: Do you have a view about the fact that building surveyors come in at the end of the process, when issues may have occurred prior to that, and it is very difficult for surveyors to actually verify what has happened.? Do you see a role earlier on in the process?

Mr Tuxford : We do. Our submission identifies the need for there to be consistency with regard to the mandatory inspections that are undertaken on buildings. It would be a matter of it being a risk based approach, but it should be consistent across the country. One of the documents annexed to our submission is a little chart that identifies the variance in inspections that apply as mandatory- or critical-stage inspections across each of the states. Again, it does not make sense that that is the case; it should be a consistent approach.

CHAIR: Mr Savery, from the ABCB, pointed out that there has been a reduction in mandatory inspections in the process. Do you see that as having been part of the problem going back over some decades?

Mr Tuxford : It is our view that it could be one of the elements of the problem. It is one of our recommendations that there should be a consistent regime of mandatory inspections by the building surveyor or accredited inspector.

CHAIR: Would you put the deregulation of this area as one of the critical problems we need to look at?

Dr O'Brien : When you talk about deregulation, is that a question in relation to private certification?

CHAIR: Yes.

Dr O'Brien : In my view, no. I think it is possible to conflate two issues. One issue is private certification and the second one is globalisation. In fact, they occurred at around the same time. I do not know that private certification would have any more influence on the occurrence of non-conforming building products than when we had the old 'command and control' local authority model. Indeed, the Queensland government is undertaking an audit of buildings at the moment, for the period from 1994 to 2000, and that encompasses a period before private certification. In my view, private certification is not a major factor contributing to this issue.

Senator KIM CARR: Mr Savery, from the Australian Building Codes Board, observed that the industry had changed dramatically in recent decades, with deregulation and globalisation making it harder to ensure buildings were built to certain standards. He noted that the sophisticated performance-based code regulation was introduced in the early nineties, which needed highly qualified people to understand how it works; and, at the same time, formerly government-run building certification was privatised and the industry underwent a process of deregulation—for example, a reduction in things like mandatory inspections. Clearly, they were two separate events: the importation of non-compliant building materials and the failure of the regulatory system to actually pick this up. This is where the deregulation issue arises. Do you think there is merit in the proposition that it is now time to re-regulate?

Dr O'Brien : My view is that we do not need any more regulations; we need to improve the ones that we have.

Senator XENOPHON: And enforce them.

Dr O'Brien : And definitely enforcement. Ultimately, all building materials come under the Building Code of Australia evidence of suitability rules, and that was a point I alluded to in my opening address. Those rules have not changed substantially since 1990. So building surveyors stand ready and continue to ensure buildings are built to the highest standards for the safety of the community. But we need to look at the rules that are there, and everyone in the process needs to have the tools to be able to do this.

Senator KIM CARR: Sure. Mr Tuxford has indicated the need for national licensing, and that is clearly an area where there needs to be national regulation. So you cannot say there is not a need for further regulation and then call for national regulation; that is quite inconsistent.

Dr O'Brien : I take that point. But I think with the national regulation we are talking about licensing. Building surveying is a highly qualified profession now. My job is as a lecturer and head of program for building surveying at Central Queensland University. It is now a bachelor degree with honours to be a building surveyor. The cadre of building surveyors in the profession now, in my view, are of a high quality.

Senator KIM CARR: Your submission, Mr Tuxford, looks to the issue of national licensing. National licensing does not apply just to surveyors; it applies to all people installing products. Surely, that might be where we could turn to actually enforce standards. We need someone to be actually held responsible for the proper installation of a compliant product and if you do not do it properly you lose your licence. That is quite a severe penalty. Is that the proposition you are supporting?

Mr Tuxford : That's correct. That is the proposition we are putting forward.

Senator KIM CARR: Clearly, I think there is some merit in your proposal. But your submission does seem to suggest a need for re-regulation of the industry.

Dr O'Brien : Sorry, I probably was not very clear on that point. We have state licensing regimes—or we had state licensing regimes—

Senator KIM CARR: Yes, and most of them are hopeless.

D r O'Brien : It is about taking that regime and applying it nationally and consistently across the board and for all practitioners.

Senator KIM CARR: You would have to have qualified, licenced tradespeople to put the materials into the buildings. Someone has to be held accountable that it is a safe product. The tradesmen has to be able to say, 'I'm satisfied that it is a compliant product that I have been asked to install.'

Dr O'Brien : I think the draft Queensland bill goes some way towards achieving this. It looks at a chain of responsibility that includes the product designer, the manufacturer, the supplier and the installer. If that could be picked up and harmonised across all states and territories—

Senator KIM CARR: That's the problem: it is model legislation that no state has agreed to do; it has been drafted by senior officers on that basis, but no-one has actually—

Senator XENOPHON: Do you think it is good legislation, a good bill?

Dr O'Brien : I think it is a good starting point, yes.

Senator KIM CARR: What we are suggesting, though, is something that might speed this up some. And this is why I am asking for your advice on whether it would be appropriate for the Commonwealth parliament, through the training system, to say that licensing must be put in place so that people are properly trained.

Mr Tuxford : We would support that; that is our submission. We also would support a harmonised auditing of those licences once in place.

Senator KIM CARR: And properly updated?

Dr O'Brien : And properly updated. And we would support ongoing professional development and training—all the things that come with that sort of licensing or accreditation.

Senator KIM CARR: The other issue is the importation of non-standard products. Do you support banning non-standard products?

Dr O'Brien : I think under our obligations under the Uruguay round of the World Trade Organization we are not allowed to use technical standards as a barrier to—

Senator KIM CARR: It is not a technical standard; it is a safety issue.

Dr O'Brien : I agree. I think the issue is that the elements and attributes that could make a product dangerous are not often visible to the naked eye. We are talking about the strength of steel. We are talking about whether the carpet we are on now is nonflammable; it should be, but we cannot see that. I think we need to have type auditing, randomised testing—

Senator KIM CARR: I am going a bit further than that. Under the World Trade Organization conditions, and in all our free-trade agreements, there are carve-outs for public safety. Why can't we use those to ban non-compliant products that are dangerous?

Dr O'Brien : I do not disagree with that proposition; the issue is about identifying whether they are dangerous non-conforming products or not. At the moment, when container loads of products hit the docks, nobody is there actually checking for testing.

Senator KIM CARR: And the Customs people are not able to do it—they are not interested in doing it—because it is not illegal.

Dr O'Brien : That's correct.

Senator KIM CARR: So we should ban it so it becomes illegal—like an asbestos product; asbestos is illegal—and therefore it will become a matter for Customs to take an interest in. Why can't we do that for non-conforming products that are dangerous?

Dr O'Brien : The difficulty is with, for argument's sake, glazing or carpet. Floor linings have to satisfy minimum fire hazard properties. You are not going to know by looking at it. Really, the only way to know whether it is a dangerous, non-conforming product is to test it.

Senator KIM CARR: So it has to be certified that it is compliant with Australian standards, which is then verified by a third party. Would that cover your reservations?

Mr Tuxford : We would agree with that. That was in our earlier submissions when we were focusing on the non-conforming product issues, and that is that this needs to be stopped at the border, if it can be, especially for dangerous products, as you have identified, such as products with asbestos. There needs to be some sort of regime of testing before they're allowed to come in the country.

Senator KIM CARR: In the case of cladding, which is obviously the one that gets public attention, surely it can be demonstrated that it is dangerous.

Mr Tuxford : It is more difficult because some of the cladding is dangerous when it is used in certain applications.

Senator KIM CARR: So then it would have to be certified for only use in that particular application. This is where the complication comes into it. It would have to be certified that it was being imported for that use only.

Mr Tuxford : That is correct.

Dr O'Brien : Context is very important. Some of these are not actually non-conforming; they are non-complying. In a certain context, they would be quite lawful and quite fit for purpose, but, used in the wrong context, there could be—

Senator KIM CARR: The next question that arises is: how do you stop a product that is allegedly brought in for a low-rise building being used in a high-rise building?

Dr O'Brien : Education is one element.

Senator KIM CARR: That won't wash, not when greed is involved.

Senator XENOPHON: AIBS's technical discussion paper, 'External wall cladding systems: Building Code of Australia', says that the standard for cladding is open to interpretation. In other words, it's ambiguous. Doesn't that set off the alarm bells—the fact that you say in your own technical paper that there is an ambiguous standard? Surely a standard that is open to interpretation, with ambiguity, is itself not just problematic but, in fact, downright dangerous?

Mr Tuxford : We reiterated that concern in even the shorter submission that we put forward. We talked about the interpretation of the National Construction Code and some of the ambiguity between whether something is a cladding, a lining or an attachment. We stand by that position. I go back to Senator Carr's question. There is a difference, as Dr O'Brien was saying, between dangerous products and products that are not fit for a particular purpose. If there were ways of testing the products that have various applications at the border and having them certified for a particular use—for example, a particular cladding is or is not combustible in accordance with the relevant standard that applies—and if it were clear and you could link it to a particular product clearly, that would have to improve the process.

Senator KIM CARR: The problem arises when a product is imported for a specific purpose and is then used for another. This is where the question of licensing would come in. A person would only be licensed to install a product that was fit for purpose. They then take responsibility and they won't install a product that's not. If they actually breach that licence, they lose their licence. What do you say about that principle?

Mr Tuxford : We don't object to that principle, Senator Carr. We think that's sound.

CHAIR: Thank you very much. I really appreciate your submissions. That was very useful.

Senator XENOPHON: Mr Tuxford, in your view, have free trade agreements compromised our sovereignty to deal with these issues?

Mr Tuxford : We've identified that free trade agreements are one of the issues that impact on the problem that we're all trying to address. I'm not an expert in that area, but I understand, through discussion and the media, that there are limitations on what can and can't be asked to be done because of products coming into the country as a consequence of free trade agreements.

Senator XENOPHON: You referred in your opening statement to the demise of the clerk of works role. Most people wouldn't know what a clerk of works is. Could you explain to us, very briefly, the history, the context and why that must be addressed, in your view?

Mr Tuxford : I will, as simply as I can. The clerk of works was largely engaged by the architect or the owner and was on site to look after the interests of the owner. They largely had a quality assurance role. They supervised what was happening on site. There was a deregulation of the Institute of Clerk of Works in about 1984.

Senator XENOPHON: This goes to Senator Carr's question regarding deregulation. So you are saying that, from the mid-eighties, there was a reduction in the level of supervision and quality assurance for building sites?

Mr Tuxford : I believe so, yes.

Senator XENOPHON: And that has been a retrograde step?

Mr Tuxford : I believe so, yes.

Senator XENOPHON: We saw what happened at Lacrosse and we know what happened at Grenfell tower very recently. In your view, is there now any excuse for us not to have a rapid overhaul and reform of this? How urgent do you regard this?

Mr Tuxford : As Dr O'Brien said, the cladding issue is most probably the canary in the mine. We have had significant disasters and it is something that we believe identifies a systemic problem and that systemic problem needs to be addressed. That is the basis of our recommendations that we have put forward to try to assist with going forward with trying to have that addressed.

CHAIR: I have a final question just to clarify your opening statement. You made the comment in relation to your professional indemnity insurance that the insurance companies are now putting an exclusion in there for buildings with external cladding. How is that exclusion working? Does that cause you some concern?

Mr Tuxford : I think it should cause everyone some concern where these types of exclusions are added. Obviously professional indemnity insurance is there to protect consumers and, if there are limitations on the insurance that is available, that is of concern. This only came to us fairly late in the preparation of our submission, but we have examples of what is being suggested. I do not think the regulators would be happy to accept that. So I think that there will be an issue with those types of clauses.

CHAIR: How are they defining the external cladding?

Mr Tuxford : The one in front of me at the moment says under 'Noncompliant cladding exclusion':

We shall have no liability under this policy, including in respect of any claim or cost or expense or indemnity or payment or loss arising out of, based upon, attributed to or in consequence of the use of external wall cladding that is not compliant with the applicable building standards in respect of fire resistance.

Senator KIM CARR: What is wrong with that? Why shouldn't the insurance companies say that someone is going to take responsibility, and it goes right to the bottom line of the building owner, building developer or everyone associated with it, and you won't get insurance unless that is compliant? What is wrong with that proposition?

Mr Tuxford : That exclusion would be applied to the PI insurance that the accredited certifiers would be required to have in place. Not all professions within the building industry—as we have said and discussed at length about the licensing and accreditation arrangements nationally—have those sorts of obligations on them. If that was something that was applied uniformly, it may be appropriate. But at the moment that they are proposing to simply put on PI insurance for the accredited certifier.

Senator KIM CARR: But isn't it a commercial reality that, after these major events, what is going to happen is insurance companies will say, 'We're not going to be liable for a dodgy building'?

Mr Tuxford : That may be the case. Again, I am not an insurance expert, and I could not comment in any detail on that.

CHAIR: Gentlemen, thank you very much for appearing before us.