NSW government's building bill delayed

Jodie Stephens
NSW legislation cracking down on dodgy building standards has been delayed in state Parliament

A NSW building reform bill introduced in response to high-profile apartment defects looks likely to be delayed until 2020 as the state government accuses the Greens and Labor of hijacking the draft legislation.

Debate over the Design and Building Practitioners Bill came to a halt in the NSW upper house on Wednesday amidst a stand-off over amendments sought by Labor and the Greens.

Better Regulation Minister Kevin Anderson said stakeholders raised serious concerns over the amendments, which would establish a building commission and require the registration of professional engineers.

"For too long homeowners have had insufficient protections when purchasing apartments in NSW," Mr Anderson said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Today we had a chance to better protect those homeowners but Labor and the Greens have made it clear, you can only have that protection if they get what they want."

The government's bill aims to register a range of building professionals and would provide requirements for buildings to meet the Building Code of Australia. It would also legislate a duty of care for home owners.

Labor says its amendment requiring engineer registration is supported by industry and consumer groups, and the government has left the sector in crisis by pulling the bill.

"In its current form this bill is full of empty promises but with amendments the bill will at least deliver some peace of mind to homeowners," Opposition Building Reform spokeswoman Yasmin Catley said in a statement.

"We want to see the best possible building regulation bill to bring back confidence in the building industry."

Greens MP David Shoebridge said the bill was never going to be a serious fix for the construction industry but if the government accepted the amendments it would have been a start.

He said a building commission would "finally bring together the fractured and ineffectual regulation of industry".

"Instead of working with the parliament to fix this inadequate bill, Minister Anderson has taken his very broken bat and ball and sulked off home," Mr Shoebridge said in a statement.

Mr Anderson said the bill could pass and provide increased consumer protection from next week if the amendments were removed.