The NSW Labor Opposition has slammed the Berejiklian Government for presiding over systemic failures within Fair Trading that saw home owners repeatedly exposed to a dodgy builder who had been previously reported to the agency.
A scathing NSW Ombudsman’s report released into the handling of Fair Trading’s Home Building Service identified systemic weaknesses and said the agency had fallen short of industry best practice.
The Ombudsman’s report identified:
- The apparent lack of rigour in updating the public register of authorised builders;
- The lack of comprehensive guidance for considering complaint handling, compliance and disciplinary information in assessing an applicant’s fitness and propriety to hold an authority, and
- The sufficiency of the licence renewal process.
It concluded that “evidence collected in this case suggests that the systems and processes of Fair Trading fall short of best practice and may be inadequate to protect consumers from unscrupulous builders who are determined to take advantage of the system’s weaknesses.
Through cuts and stretching public resources to breaking point, Minister Matt Kean has failed in his central duty to protect consumers.
Consumers should be able to have the confidence that unscrupulous builders will be caught by the system before a major problem occurs, not after. This confidence can only come through a well-resourced agency to stamp out dodgy businesses.
Last year at Budget Estimates, Minister Kean was caught out failing to take steps to identify dangerous aluminium cladding in hundreds of apartments across NSW.
Quotes attributed to Jo Haylen MP, Member for Summer Hill
“Locals know that renovating is one of the most stressful and expensive things you can do and that most of that stress involves choosing a reputable builder.
"It's hugely disappointing that the Minister has failed to provide protections for consumers against dodgy builders.
"Protecting consumers really is a baseline responsibility for the Minister and he has categorically failed to do his job."
Quotes attributed to Yasmin Catley, Shadow Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation
“Buying and building a home is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, decisions many people will make in their lives.
“Just last year Minister Kean was caught out on his failure to identify dodgy aluminium cladding on hundreds of apartment buildings.
“Now we find out through the Ombudsman report that he is presiding over an agency in crisis that is not able to do their job and protect consumers.”