ACT Construction Occupations

Compliance Statement

The ACT Construction Occupations Registrar’s Annual Report must comply with the 2015 Annual Report Directions (the Directions). The Directions are found at the ACT Legislation Register:

The Compliance Statement indicates the subsections, under the five Parts of the Directions, that are applicable to the ACT Construction Occupations Registrar’s Annual Report and the location of information that satisfies these requirements:

Part 1 Directions Overview

The requirements under Part 1 of the 2015 Directions relate to the purpose, timing and distribution, and records keeping of annual reports. The ACT Construction Occupations Registrar’s Annual Report complies with all subsections of Part 1 under the Directions.

In compliance with section 13 Feedback, Part 1 of the Directions, contact details for ACT Construction Occupations Registrar are provided within the ACT Construction Occupations Registrar’s Annual Report to provide readers with the opportunity to provide feedback.

Part 2 Agency Annual Report Requirements

The requirements within Part 2 of the Directions are mandatory for all agencies and the ACT Construction Occupations Registrar’s Annual Report complies with all subsections. The information that satisfies the requirements of Part 2 is found in the ACT Construction Occupations Registrar’s Annual Report as follows:

  • A. Transmittal Certificate, see page 238;
  • B. Organisational Overview and Performance, inclusive of all subsections, see page 240;
  • C. Financial Management Reporting, inclusive of all subsections, is contained within the CMTEDD Annual report.

Part 3 Reporting by Exception

The ACT Construction Occupations Registrar has nil information to report by exception under Part 3 of the Directions for the 2015‐16 reporting period.

Part 4 Agency Specific Annual Report Requirements

There are no specific annual report requirements for the ACT Construction Occupations Registrar

Part 5 Whole of Government Annual Reporting

All subsections of Part 5 of the Directions apply to the ACT Construction Occupations Registrar. Consistent with the Directions, the information satisfying these requirements is reported in the one place for all ACT Public Service Directorates, as follows:

M. Community Engagement and Support, see the 2015‐16 Annual Report of Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate;

N. Justice and Community Safety, including all subsections R.1 – R.4, see the 2015‐16 Annual Report of the Justice and Community Safety Directorate;

O. Public Sector Standards and Workplace Profile, see the Commissioner for Public Administration State of the Service Annual Report; and

P. Territory Records, see the 2015‐16 Annual Report of Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic, Development Directorate.

ACT Public Service Directorate annual reports are found at the following web address:

Construction Occupations (Licensing) Act 2004 (COLA)

This annual report has been prepared according to Construction Occupations (Licensing) Act 2004 (s.112 Annual Report by Registrar) and Construction Occupations (Licensing) Regulation 2004 (s.44 Information in report to Minister).

COLA Inspectorates

The Construction Occupations Registrar utilises three key inspectorates to audit activities within the construction industry - the electrical inspectorate; the plumbing/gasfitting inspectorate; and the construction audit team. The teams focus on compliance of each of the licensed occupations within the construction industry, and the auditing and inspection of the works of licensees, specifically around the safety aspects of compliance of their work and installations.

Responsibilities rely on effective carriage and operation under a range of construction industry laws including the Building and Construction Industry (Security of Payment) Act 2009, the Building Act 2004, the Construction Occupations (Licensing) Act 2004 (COLA), the Electricity Safety Act 1971, the Gas Safety Act 2000, the Planning and Development Act 2007 (P&D Act), the Water and Sewerage Act 2000, and the Dangerous Substances Act 2004 and various regulations and instruments.

The Construction Audit Team conducts audits and site inspections of the work of building certifiers, builders and building assessors, predominantly within the housing and residential apartment sectors.

The Electrical Inspectorate conducts mandatory inspections on all new electrical installations in relation to electrical safety compliance with the Electricity Safety Act 1971 and all associated Australian Standards.

The Plumbing and Gas Fitting Inspectorate, inspects plumbing, drainage and gas-fitting work undertaken by licensed plumbers, drainers and gasfitters. The inspectorate validates submissions for the installation of Type B gas appliances in domestic and commercial applications and also investigates complaints and undertakes disciplinary actions where necessary.

Construction Audit

The Construction Audit Team is responsible for auditing the performance of licensed builders, building surveyors, building assessors and works assessors against the provisions of the COLA and the relevant operational laws including the Building Act 2004.

This is achieved by undertaking random and targeted audits of building work and associated documentation. The audits have two main purposes, firstly, to identify deficiencies in the operations of individual licensees, and secondly, to identify trends within industry. The results of audits provide an evidence base for the review of operational and strategic policy within the construction industry.

The team reports directly to the Construction Occupations Registrar and works closely with other areas of the Construction, Environment and Workplace Protection Branch in progressing matters of non-conformance and providing input for future policy development.

The team also conducts audits on a range of residential energy ratings issued by licensed building assessors on new building work and on energy efficiency rating statements for sale and lease of residential premises. The Civil Law (Sale of Residential Property) Act 2003 and Residential Tenancies Act 1997 require that an energy efficiency rating statement be provided by owners of certain residential premises.

Number of audits of residential building approval 1 July 2015 – 30 June 2016

Audit type Number
Number of new approved building work 4,073
Audit physical site inspections 428
Number of desktop audits audit 60
Total building approval audits: 488

Proportion of audits of residential building approval 1 July 2015 – 30 June 2016

  Per cent
Building approval audits as a percentage of BCA building class 1-10 12%
Non conformances found 189
Non conformances resolved 136
Demerit points issued 22

Number of audits of residential energy ratings 1 July 2015 – 30 June 2016

Audit type Number
New approved building work building energy rating submissions for Class 1, 2 and 4 occupancies. 1,383
Audit by report or software assessment – new house/apartment 37
Total building approval energy rating audits: 37
Sale or lease of premises Rating 5,730
Audit number by report or software assessment 288
Audit by physical inspection 7
Total sale of premises energy rating audits: 288
Total audits of residential energy ratings 1 July 2015 – 30 June 2016: 325

Proportion of audits of residential energy ratings 1 July 2015 – 30 June 2016

  Per cent
New house/apartment energy rating audits as a percentage of BCA building class 1, and sole occupancy units in class 2 and 4 building approval submissions 2.7%
Sale or lease of premises audits as a percentage of energy efficiency rating statements submitted 5.03 %
Non conformances found 314
Non conformances resolved 292
Demerit points issued 137


1. Audits involve a comparison of the energy efficiency rating against approved building plans and submitted documentation.

2. Audits involved a comparison of the energy efficiency rating statement against available building information.

3. A single dwelling approval may contain multiple dwellings.

Electrical Inspectorate

The Electrical Inspectorate Team inspects electrical wiring work undertaken by licensed electricians, investigates complaints and, where necessary, imposes disciplinary actions or sanctions against licence holders. The team also investigates fire and shock incidents and monitors product safety.

The electrical inspectorate received 19,012 Electrical Certificates of Safety and undertook 6,290 inspections of new electrical work, including 737 inspections of Photovoltaic (PV) arrays. 10,654 inspections were made on a random basis of alterations and additions to existing electrical installations.

There was a decrease of 1,415 inspections for Photovoltaic (PV) arrays from 2,152 in the previous year to 737. With no changes to Government incentives in the small scale market (less than 30kW), the Directorate continues to see a decline in PV inspections. The current rate of inspections would be considered to represent a baseline of installations in the absence of changes in Commonwealth or Territory policy on small scale PV systems. Also, the current medium and large scale solar farms under construction are no longer counted in the electrical inspectorate figures, as they now come under the Utilities Technical Regulator.

The inspectorate continues to see High Voltage (HV) work in electrical installations being carried out by licensed electricians, as opposed to the work being done by the utilities. Typically, this is in the construction of Data Centres and other high energy installations. With more high energy sites being supplied at HV in 2015-16, the electrical contracting industry has moved into this space and has increased skills to takeover more of the traditional installation work done by utilities. Policy around compliance inspections of HV work is under development.

Plumbing and Gasfitting Inspectorate

The Plumbing and Gasfitting Inspectorate inspects plumbing, drainage and gasfitting work undertaken by licensed plumbers, drainers and gasfitters. The team also investigates complaints and undertakes disciplinary action where necessary.

The inspectorate validates submissions for the installation of Type B gas appliances in domestic and commercial applications. Type B gas appliances are described as gas appliances with gas consumption over 10 mega joules per hour for which a certification scheme does not exist.

During 2015–16 the inspectorate inspected 10,028 plumbing installations and 4,313 gas installations, an increase of 470 plumbing installations and a decrease of 1,551 gas installations respectively on last year. The inspectorate also validated 62 Type B gas validations. The inspectorate’s management has been proactive in working with the Canberra Institute of Technology on a successful validation of assessment project. Management also attended several meetings of the Master Plumbers Association to keep industry informed of any regulatory changes.

National forums

The inspectorates support the Deputy Director-General, Access Canberra, Director Construction and WorkPlace Protection and the Construction Occupations Registrar in various national forums.

The branch is engaged in reforms initiated by the National Construction Code and the work of the National Strategy on Energy Efficiency as it relates to building, construction and regulated equipment. Officers from the branch provide valuable input to national standards and policy reforms.

The level of activity and call for officers to participate in national discussions continues to be high, particularly for any national licensing reforms and safety and environmental standards. Officers represent the ACT and its interests in the following national forums:

  • National Plumbing Regulators Forum;
  • National Building Code Committee;
  • Plumbing Code Committee;
  • Electrical Regulatory Authorities Council;
  • Builders Licensing Australasia;
  • Australasian Building Certifiers Forum;
  • Gas Technical Regulators Committee;
  • Energy Supply Industry Safety Committee;
  • Australian Standards Committees; and
  • Industry Skills Councils.


Access Canberra is responsible for assessing licence applications under COLA. There were 1,397 decisions made on new applications for a construction occupations licence in 2015-2016. This included 491 decisions made under the provisions of the Mutual Recognition Act 1991 which facilitated licensees entering the ACT from other jurisdictions.

Builder Licensing

New builder licence applicants, excluding owner builder licence applicants, applying direct to the ACT (not under the Mutual Recognition Act) accounted for 176 of the total decisions made on licence applications. Only 52 per cent of the decisions made resulted in applicants being granted the licence they applied for. The table below identifies the decisions made, including withdrawals by applicants:

In May 2016 a written examination was introduced for Class C Builder licence applicants to improve building quality. The examination was developed by the Environment and Planning Directorate in conjunction with Access Canberra. The examination was supported by the Building Advisory Board and Building Regulatory Advisory Committee. The content was reviewed by members of the construction industry including representatives from the MBA, HIA and Australian Institute of Building. There were no applicants for a Class C Builder licence eligible to sit the examination this year.


Below are the details of the complaints lodged against the occupations under the COLA.

COLA Complaints

During the 2015–16 financial year Access Canberra received 172 formal complaints relating to building and construction under the COLA. Some of these complaints related to multiple licensees under various occupations pertaining to individual building sites.

The following is a brief description of the types of complaints the agency receives against specific occupations:


  • non compliance with National Construction Code;
  • non-compliance with approved plans;
  • no approved plans;
  • no development approval;
  • defective work.

Building Surveyors

  • breach of planning laws;
  • unlawful building approval;
  • breach of building code;
  • refusal to lodge papers for certificate of occupancy and use;
  • improper association with builders.


  • poorly installed electrical installations;
  • faulty wiring;
  • overdue certificates of electrical safety for house extensions;
  • defect reports not rectified;
  • incomplete installations due to contractual breaches;
  • switchboard upgrades.


Non compliant works relating to sewerage, drainage, water plumbing, rainwater installations and grey water installations.

Since the establishment of Access Canberra, the strong preference has been to avoid protracted, complex and costly litigation, but instead assist owners and builders in reaching agreement on defective and non compliant building work through collaboration. This process has proven successful in dealing with building defects without recourse to litigation. The rectification process under part 4 of the Construction Occupations (Licensing) Act 2004 will be considered in certain cases and if collaboration fails. Opportunities have been taken to better educate complainants on the legal process and alternative methods for resolving complex building rectifications.

In 2015-2016 the team prepared one prosecution brief, which is currently before the Magistrates Court. Various licensing actions were taken against construction occupation licensees. There were four Rectification Orders issued, with two being withdrawn at a later stage. Three rectification orders are under appeal in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT). There were 10 matters at ACAT, of which eight were finalised during the 2015-2016 financial year. There were three matters in the Supreme Court with all three finalised.

Disciplinary Actions

Below are the details about occupational discipline under the COLA.

Name of licensee/ former licensee and occupation Type of contravention Disciplinary action taken Result of any review of the decision to take disciplinary action
John Bates (building certifier) Section 29 of the Building Act 2004 – certifier could not be satisfied that the building would comply with Building Act 2004 Appeal of ACAT decision Appeal dismissed
John Bates (building certifier) Relevant provisions to appeal: ss. 19, 19A, 25A, 25B, 42, 43, 44, 25C, 26, 28, 29 Building Act   2004
The grounds of appeal were that the Appeal Tribunal erred by not concluding that the Respondent (Bates) was required to be satisfied that the whole of the building (including the existing unapproved building work and the building work to be undertaken in accordance with the building plans had to comply with the Building   Act 2004 before he could grant building approval.
Appeal of ACAT decision to Supreme Court Appeal dismissed
Rodney Francis Sheather Conducting building work whilst unlicensed. Disqualified from applying for construction occupation licence indefinitely and reprimanded. Orders by consent of the parties
Gary Giumelli (Electrician) Work not compliant to the Wiring Rules, exceeded 15 demerit points Cancelled licence from 05/05/2016 and disqualified two weeks. Required to undertake training and skills assessment Mr Giumelli did not seek a review of this decision.

Building Advisory Board

Name Member
Vince Ball Member from the education sector
Neil Evans Member representing industry
Jerry Howard / Jason Grieves Member who is a licensee
Ivan Juric Member who is a licensee
Glenn Chambers Member who is a licensee
Gill Fergie Community representative
Tony Thew Lawyer

The COLA Building Advisory Board did not meet during 2015–16. However the board convened by email to review the changes to the mandatory qualifications to introduce the Class C Builder licence examination.

Electrical Advisory Board

Name Member
Tony Thew Community representative and lawyer
Paul Wright Member from the education sector
Robert Donnelly Member representing industry and member who is a licensee
Paul Hincksman Member who is a licensee
Robert Taylor Member representing industry
Darrell Hills Member who is a licensee
Celia Balfour Member who is a licensee
Mick Koppie Member representing industry

The COLA Electrical Advisory Board did not meet during 2015–16.

Plumbing Advisory Board

Name Member
Tony Thew Community representative and lawyer
Adrian Clarke Member from the education sector
Peter O’Halloran Member who is a licensee
Gerard Sloan Member who is a licensee
John Stephens Member representing industry and member who is a licensee
Matt McCain Member representing industry

The COLA Plumbing Advisory Board did not meet during 2015–16.

Further information may be obtained from:

Mr David Middlemiss
Deputy Director
Construction Environment and Workplace Protection, Inspections
+61 2 6207 7397

Mr Ben Green
A/g Deputy Director
Construction Environment and Workplace Protection, Licensing
+61 2 6207 7387

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