City of Mandurah opposes Premier Mark McGowan’s building permit privatisation

The City of Mandurah is facing the prospect of losing control over the building approval process, if the state government follows through with their election commitment to privatise the current system. 

Under the current Building Act 2011, which allows for a partial private certification model, people wanting to develop have to lodge an application with their local council, which then has 10 days to decide whether or not to issue a building permit.

“Local governments issue a building permit following a check of the mandatory information required to be provided, as well as ensuring that the proposal satisfies other functions of the local government such as planning, health and infrastructure,” Mandurah City’s building and development compliance coordinator Gavin Worth wrote in a report.

If the McGowan government’s plans to move into a fully privatised building approval process come to fruition, registered private building surveyors from anywhere in Australia would be able to issue the building permits themselves, removing the need to go to local councils to get the green light.

The City of Mandurah expressed its opposition to the proposal, which they believe “is not the best process nor in the best interests of the community”, during the council meeting on Tuesday night.

According to Mr Worth, moving towards a fully privatised system would increase costs for consumers, reduce the quality of assessments and approvals of building works, reduce the accessibility to building records and increase potential mistakes.

However, Premier Mark McGowan wrote in the March-April edition of the Master Builder Magazine that the change would address red tape during the approval process and inconsistent planning decisions. 

Victoria has been operating in a similar system since 1994.

However, it has been criticised after a 2011 Auditor General investigation into the Victorian Building Act.

The investigation found that the commission couldn’t prove the effectiveness of the system, and noticed that 96 per cent of permits didn’t comply with building and safety standards.