Master Builders Victoria (MBV) is calling for government to prioritise the review of the Domestic Building Contracts Act 1995 (Act) before parliament considers the Building Legislation Amendment (Domestic Building Insurance New Offences) Bill 2023 (Bill).  

The Victorian Government introduced the Bill 2023 to parliament yesterday, to provide stronger protections for consumers.  

The Bill introduces offence provisions where builders receive money for domestic building work for contracts over $16,000, before insurance is in place. The Bill also provides the Victorian Building Authority with powers to enforce disciplinary action against builders who breach their responsibilities.  

MBV CEO Michaela Lihou said it was disappointing that the Government decided to legislate only around insurance, while there were still many concerns about the current state of the Act.   

“Obviously, we want to see consumers appropriately protected, but we also want to see builders protected in the face of the existing Act, which many consumers and the industry say is out of date and no longer fit for purpose to suit current building practices,” she said.   

“MBV has – and will continue to – advocate for a detailed review of the Act to ensure that it better supports protections for all parties that enter into a contract, both consumers and builders.”   

Ms Lihou said the Act needs to be improved and needs to be clearer for industry as the new penalties for these offences will be up to $96,000 for an individual or $480,000 for a company.    

“And since the collapse of Porter Davis, more consumers and builders have become aware of these roles and responsibilities. In addition, the Victorian Building Authority is now auditing builders to see whether they are following the legislative requirements.”  

“We believe that a closer review and improved amendments to the Act, will better protect all parties and support the industry to deliver homes for Victorians,” she said.   

Ms Lihou said the Victorian Government’s recently released Housing Statement sets an ambitious target to build more homes for Victorians, which only highlights the importance of a pragmatic and holistic review of the Act. 

“We urgently need changes to the existing Act and implore Government undertake the review as a priority,” said Ms Lihou. “These changes are well overdue.”   

MBV is urging the Government to make sure that all relevant stakeholders are engaged and consulted through the review process, this includes the building and construction industry, insurance sector, financial sector, and consumer representatives.  

Available for interview: MBV CEO Michaela Lihou.