Kim Landers: Do you think the apartment boom in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane has led to falling construction standards?
Minister Andrews: There are a number of issues that impact on building issues and there have been a number of reports that have been prepared over a number of years. Most recently the Building Minister’s Forum which is comprised of State and Territory Building Ministers and myself as the Industry Minister federally commissioned a report some time ago to look at issues in the building industry, particularly around issues of compliance and enforcement. The Building Minister’s Forum actually meets twice a year. It met in August to consider an implementation plan for the recommendations and will meet again in February to discuss that even further –
Kim Landers: If I could bring you back to my original question though, do you think that there’s been a fall in construction standards?
Minister Andrews: There’s a number of issues that we need to consider, some of those are compliance related and I think it’s actually important to say that there’s two parts. One is products that don’t meet the required standards and secondly there are products that are used incorrectly, so they’re poorly fitted or they’re poorly maintained. The building certifiers and building surveyors are the ones that have responsibility for that and the report that was prepared for the BMF singles out issues relating to private certifiers in particular as one of the areas –
Kim Landers: Should we put a stop to that private certification system, because that’s the system that allows builders and developers to select and pay the person who checks to see whether their development complies?
Minister Andrews: There’s certainly a range of issues with private certifiers that has been raised in that report. I think it’s important that Building Ministers around the country actually consider the role of private certifiers into the future and to make sure that the opportunities for conflict of interest are reduced. What the report actually refers to specifically is issues where certifiers are involved in the design phase of a project and then certify the building on completion or during construction. So conflict of interest and making sure that the private certifiers are actually making sure that they are separating themselves from that conflict of interest is important and it’s one of the things I will be raising with other Building Minister in February.
Kim Landers: The Association of Professional Engineers points out that in NSW engineers don’t even have to be registered. Do you think that should change?
Minister Andrews: What the report states quite clearly, and I agree with this, is that there are issues around registration of critical building professionals. That has to be examined in every state, so every jurisdiction needs to look at that but certainly that is something that I think should be considered.
Kim Landers: If I could turn to another matter. Your fellow Queensland based cabinet Minister Peter Dutton has lashed out at Malcolm Turnbull, saying that he couldn’t make a decision and that he didn’t have a political bone in his body. Do you think those comments just remind voters of the division and bitterness in the Government?
Minister Andrews: I think everyone needs to move on. It is a new year tomorrow and I think talking about changes to leadership are things that were dealt with in the past. I don’t want to keep talking about it. I don’t want to keep talking about the Rudd-Gillard issues. I actually want to keep focussing on the future and I think that’s what Australians want.
Kim Landers: Was Peter Dutton unwise to make those comments?
Minister Andrews: That was a decision that Peter made. I’m not going to comment on that. I hold Peter in very high regard, I think he is an excellent Minister, so I have every confidence in his ability to continue to manage well the Home Affairs Ministry because that’s what he has done and that’s what he will continue to do.
Kim Landers: What do you think he was up to in making those comments?
Minister Andrews: I don’t know. I haven’t spoken to Peter since and I haven’t discussed those issues with him at all. He has made his statements, I think that everyone should move on and focus on the issues that are important to Australians and that is jobs, it is making sure that we have a strong economy so that we can build jobs. It’s talking about things like the building industry which are important to people, the fact that in the last 12 months this Government oversaw an additional 90-thousand jobs in the manufacturing sector, which is critical, particularly to our young people. That’s what people want to hear us talk about and I think we need to leave all of the internal issues well and truly behind in 2018 and face 2019 in a very positive manner.
Kim Landers: Minister thank you very much for talking to AM.
Minister Andrews: It’s a pleasure. Thank you.