Building Commissioner denies he’s ‘drowning’

The new NSW Building Commissioner has rejected claims a lack of resources has left him ‘drowning’.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the appointment of David Chandler as the NSW Building Commissioner on August 1, hailing the new position as part of the government’s biggest overhaul of building laws in the state’s history.

As Commissioner, Mr Chandler is tasked with investigation into and disciplinary action for misconduct in the building industry, while overseeing  end-to-end licensing and auditing across the sector.

He’ll also spearhead legislative reforms of the building industry, including laws to be introduced later this year requiring building practitioners to be registered, a new duty of care to make it easier for home owners to seek compensation against negligent building practitioners, and ensuring all buildings are designed and constructed to plans that comply with the Building Code of Australia.

At a parliamentary committee hearing last week, Mr Chandler faced questioning about whether he was well enough resourced to tackle what Committee Chair, Greens MP David Shoebridge, described as a “massive task” and a mounting crisis in the sector.

David Chandler

Mr Shoebridge asked whether Mr Chandler was “a man that might be drowning” due to a lack of resourcing.

“I’m not drowning, I’m going to be all over this,” Mr Chandler replied. “In 180 days from now you come back and talk to me and tell me if you can imagine or see some difference.”

The Greens and Labor are calling for the establishment of a Building Commission to supplement the commissioner’s work.

Mr Chandler said there had been extensive consultation of the legal framework around his role and creating a commission would just be duplication.

“I don’t know how many times I have to say it. I will have whatever resources are available to me but the last thing I want to do is create an organisation that duplicates other organisations,” he told the inquiry into the regulation of building standards on Friday.

The committee heard that while Mr Chandler has five support staff, he has no additional powers on the ground to check building defects.

Mr Chandler is set to report to the State Government in a matter of weeks on Sydney’s Mascot Towers, which were evacuated last month because of structural faults.

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