Queensland Housing Minister’s late action only the beginning on construction
As Queensland Housing Minister Mick de Brenni finally responds today to pressure from Federal Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace to act on the professional indemnity crisis facing the state’s construction industry, Mr Wallace has warned that Minister de Brenni’s late action on the insurance exemptions needed is only just the beginning.
“I welcome Minister de Brenni’s last-minute decision to listen to me and to the many voices in the construction industry which have been crying out to him about this crisis for more than a year. This action is long overdue and I sincerely hope that the Minister has not already missed the chance to prevent this critical sector grinding to a halt. Only time will tell whether insurers will be willing to re-enter the market at this late stage.” Mr Wallace said.
Mr Wallace said that it was critical that Minister de Brenni now take further action to solve this on-going crisis.
“The Minister has now made it possible for insurers to re-enter the market, but by leaving it so long to act, he has put the onus on himself to make sure that they do, and that they offer reasonably priced policies for certifiers. It is unacceptable that as the Minister has sat on his hands, private certifiers have seen their insurance premiums rise and rise. If private certifiers continue to be charged premiums that have increased by 200% or even 500% as they are now, they still will not be able to operate, and the cranes will still stop moving.” he said.
Mr Wallace, who has been leading efforts to force the Minister to respond appropriately to this looming crisis, called for insurers to return quickly to the market with affordable policies.
“I urge the insurers who have fled this market over the past twelve months to acknowledge the Government’s action to assist them, to meet their social obligations and to begin offering professional indemnity insurance for private certifiers once again without delay. We need industry to step up today and help prevent thousands of small businesses facing financial ruin.” he said.
As Mr Wallace has repeatedly stated during his campaign on this issue, including most recently in a column last week in the Courier Mail, there are currently no insurers willing to offer the professional indemnity policies that private certifiers in Queensland need to stay licenced. Without licenced private certifiers new building owners would be unable occupy their buildings and builders, and their sub-contractors and suppliers will go unpaid.
As a previous builder and then later a barrister who specialised in the construction industry, Mr Wallace was the author of a 2014 report commissioned by the Queensland Government which made 122 recommendations to address significant then emerging concerns about accountability in the construction sector and the building certification system. If implemented these recommendations may have avoided many of the factors contributing to the current crisis. The Queensland State Government still have not responded to this report’s recommendations.