Image for Non-Conforming Building Products: Senate Report

Growing concerns about the incidence of non-conforming building products supplied into the Australian construction market led to the establishment in 2015 of the Senate Economics References Committee into Non-Conforming Building Products. The final report of the Committee, released in December, endorses the recommendations of the CPA, including the need for urgent action to improve consultative mechanisms with industry stakeholders and expedite consideration of third-party certification schemes.

The long-awaited final report of the Senate Economics References Committee into Non-Conforming Building Products (NCBPs), released in December 2018, makes 13 recommendations to address the issue of NCBPs in the Australian construction sector.

The report aims to strengthen accountability and compliance and provide greater information to stakeholders, "allowing stakeholders to make informed choices and ensuring the development of a coherent and robust regulatory regime for building materials in Australia.

The Construction Product Alliance (CPA), a coalition of over 40 construction industry associations and stakeholders, of which LIBERTY is one, has welcomed the final report.

Commenting on the report, CPA Steering Committee Chairperson Lindsay Le Compte said it endorsed a number of proposals advanced by the CPA and that it will be an important reference point for future action to address the non-conforming building product dilemma facing both industry and government regulators.

“The report takes an appropriately broad view of the issue and is consistent with the holistic approach that has been called for by the CPA for some time," Le Compte said. "The recommendations that the Building Ministers’ Forum take urgent action to improve consultative mechanisms with industry stakeholders and expedite consideration of third-party certification schemes are particularly relevant.

“The recommendation proposing confidential reporting mechanisms is also consistent with the proposals that the CPA has been asking governments to implement, while the recommendation to make Australian Standards more accessible will be significant in the event that chain of responsibility legislation and financial penalties for failure to comply with the National Construction Code are introduced across jurisdictions.

“All governments across the country now need to work together, and with industry, to develop a consistent approach to addressing the issues. The CPA stands ready, willing and able to work with the Building Ministers’ Forum to address the recommendations in the report," he said.

Le Compte also said that the full report would now be examined by the CPA with a view to a formal CPA response, together with an industry-developed strategic plan for dealing with NCBPs, being considered at the next CPA forum scheduled in Quarter 1 2019.

LIBERTY draws attention to the following findings of the Committee, all of which are consistent with the CPA’s recommendations:

  • 3.86 The committee recommends that the Building Ministers' Forum give further consideration to introduce a nationally consistent approach that increases accountability for participants across the supply chain
  • 3.69 The committee recommends that the Building Ministers' Forum develop improved consultative mechanisms with industry stakeholders
  • 3.78 The committee calls on the Building Ministers' Forum to expedite its consideration of a mandatory third-party certification scheme for high-risk building products and a national register for these products
  • 3.74 The committee recommends that the Australian government develop a confidential reporting mechanism through which industry and other stakeholders can report non-conforming building products
  • 3.79 The committee recommends that where an importer intends to import goods that have been deemed high-risk, the Australian government requires the importer, prior to the importation of the goods, to conduct sampling and testing by a NATA-accredited authority (or a NATA equivalent testing authority in another country that is a signatory to a Mutual Recognition Arrangement).

Ensuring compliant procurement

The Australasian Procurement and Construction Council (APCC) has recognised that compliance and durability of construction products are major risk factors that need to be managed as they impact significantly on the service life and quality of building and construction projects.

In 2015 the Construction Product Quality Working Group on behalf of the APCC developed the Procurement of Construction Products guide to assist in the decision-making process for the procurement of construction products in Australia. The guide is designed to elevate the levels of compliance and provide a level of confidence to all parties in the supply chain. 

From a steel perspective, the guide recommends a number of steps to ensure steelwork is correctly specified and subsequently supplied. The key recommendations are for the provision of test certificates and third-party product certification from a JAS-ANZ accredited certifier such as the Australasian Certification Authority for Reinforcing and Structural Steels (ACRS). 

LIBERTY is committed to the manufacture and supply of compliant building products. LIBERTY’s extensive range of structural and reinforcing steel products are designed to comply with all relevant Australian Standards and carry ACRS certification.