Mr PERRETT (Gympie—LNP) (11.58 am): I rise to speak on the Building and Other Legislation
Amendment Bill 2022. This bill aims to support contemporary consumer expectations about efficiency
regarding ‘ban the banners’ of solar hot-water systems and solar panels, expanding the use of
greywater, and holding tanks for sewage and greywater. It will also enhance the regulatory framework
regarding head contractor licensing, sharing information and decision-making, and make minor
technical amendments.
The ‘ban the banners’ provisions relate to solar hot-water systems and solar panels. Following a
lengthy legal battle, a developer won a case against a resident in relation to where she could place
solar panels on her roof. The state government made assurances that this legislation would stand up.
It did not and the minister made an ex gratia payment to cover the excessive legal bill. Simply removing
her solar panels left the homeowner with an excessive legal bill. The situation was a direct consequence
of the mess created by legislation passed by the Bligh government. Currently, developers can determine
where solar panels should be placed on a property. That is regardless of whether the location provides
optimal access to solar rays. In other words, they can make the call based on aesthetic reasons and
not on providing the homeowner with the best chance to benefit from the solar panels.
The Bligh-era legislation failed to protect residents. The result was that this government put
someone through the legal wringer all because yet another piece of legislation was flawed. This is a
familiar theme for Labor: it did not get the basics right. One in three homes in Queensland has rooftop
solar. There are now 697,000 residential solar systems and many on business premises. It makes no
sense to restrict home owners by having rooftop solar placed in shadows and not having peak
efficiency. The department advised that this amendment is now needed to protect home owners to gain
from the full benefits of their solar panels by clarifying provisions in the legislation ‘to both the installation
of the solar panels on a roof as well as locating the solar panels at the home owner’s preferred location
on their roof’.
It is five years since the tragic Grenfell Tower fire in London. The combustible external cladding
on the building ensured the fire spread swiftly. It has been five years—half a decade—since that fire,
yet the government still has no real solution to address the presence of combustible cladding remaining
on private buildings. At the end of April there were nearly 30 government sites, including schools,
hospitals, courts and libraries, with flammable cladding; however, the government has no answer on
how to fix this problem on privately owned buildings. Every day that this problem lingers it puts people
at risk.
The QBCC is powerless to commence prosecutions against those who have committed an
offence in relation to the combustible cladding checklist process. Even with the ability to prosecute a
building owner for inaction, there may still be a difficulty in compelling the building owner to remove the
cladding. Ever since the government’s regulation came into effect in 2018, no state government agency
has had the authority to prosecute noncompliant building owners. This has been an issue since 2017,
and the government still has no clear solution to the problem of combustible cladding on private
structures. There are concerns that this legislation will not fully resolve the issue. The Strata Community
Association Queensland submission noted—
… the only solution for this ongoing problem is rectification. We urge … the Committee to seek an appropriate model for
rectification as promptly as possible. Safety, the core concern with this entire program, is not assured for affected buildings until
rectification occurs. Other states are moving towards rectification, and we urge … the Committee to seek to look to other jurisdictions in Australia and overseas to provide a model … that is going to ensure safety as soon as possible. Recommendation No. 2 from the committee proposes—
… in developing the regulation relating to the head contractor licensing exemptions, the Minister should clearly define the type of work prescribed under the regulation and consider the timing of commencement as suggested by stakeholders.
Daily this government is being defined by its attempts to run from scrutiny and transparency. The
head contractor licensing exemptions amendment is just another example of its aversion to openness
and parliamentary examination. Stakeholders are concerned that it is premature, considering the
government is currently conducting a review into developer licensing, and that this is another attempt
to avoid parliamentary scrutiny.
Stakeholders are frustrated that not much is known about what is in that review, that the government frequently engages in games of secrecy in dealing with the sector and that it habitually avoids parliamentary scrutiny by relegating important issues to regulation. The Urban Development Institute of Australia, UDIA, submission said—
… it is premature to be creating a new regulatory framework mechanism while the developer licensing review is not complete
and given the commonality of subject matter and industry participants.
The Queensland Law Society then said—
It is critical that regulations are not used as a mechanism for circumventing the legislative process for passing Acts of parliament or for addressing matters which are appropriately dealt with in primary legislation.
I support the bill, but I urge the minister to take note of those legitimate concerns that have been raised
by stakeholders.