QUEENSLAND’S construction industry could grind to a halt if the State Government doesn’t change a policy to allow building certifiers’ insurance to include exemptions for cladding.
On July 2 the last insurer to offer a professional indemnity insurance policy without exclusions, which certifiers require under Queensland law, will no longer do so.
John Dunn, director of the Coast’s JBDA Certifiers, said it was possible construction sites would shut down if policies weren’t changed before certifiers renewed their insurance.
“My insurance isn’t due until October and I’m hoping there is something done in relation to it,” Mr Dunn said.
“But I know there are some certifiers who have actually pulled out of the business now because they just really didn’t want to deal with the PI insurance issue.
“I believe South Australia has now gone back to allowing certifications with the exclusion for cladding and I’m hoping that will happen up in Queensland.”
Federal Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace today called on Queensland Housing and Public Works Minister Mick de Brenni to avert the crisis before July 2.
He said exemptions for building cladding should be allowed in certifiers’ PI insurance policies so that insurers can offer the necessary policies without risk of excessive liability caused by combustible cladding.
“The Queensland State Labor Government have known about this issue for more than a year and they have done absolutely nothing to avoid it,” he said.
“Now they must act and change the rules so that building certifiers’ insurance can include exemptions for building cladding and non-compliant building materials.”
On Saturday Mr de Brenni said the insurance crisis for certifiers had been triggered by the insurance industry reacting to the combustible cladding scandal.
Two years ago a fire broke out in London’s Grenfell Tower, killing 72 people, and the rapid spread of the fire was attributed to the building’s cladding.
“The Federal Government has failed to ban the importation of dodgy combustible cladding despite the risks it presents, so the State Government will be ensuring the Queensland community is protected,” Mr de Brenni said.
“Some industry groups have been calling for the government to allow certifiers to approve buildings without adequate professional indemnity insurance.
“If this means allowing insurance policy with exclusions then the only way I think this would be satisfactory to the public would be if we removed the ability to use high-risk products on high-rise buildings.”
Mr de Brenni has called an urgent meeting of his Ministerial Construction Council, to be held tomorrow, to discuss a range of measures to stop construction works in Queensland from grinding to a standstill.
Recommendations from an independent report into the insurance issue will be considered at the meeting, along with other measures including:
- Changing licensing rules for certifiers to allow them to practice with exclusion in their mandatory profession indemnity insurance
- The creation of a national professional standards body for certifiers, much like that which exists for lawyers, solicitors, architects, and engineers
- Expediting a permanent labelling system for Aluminium Composite Panels in Australia to prevent substitution
- Establishing a model to indemnify certifiers who are involved in combustible cladding rectification or remediation work on buildings