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Building and Consumer Protection

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 9 November 2021

Tags: Housing

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Speaker, I am pleased to contribute to this matter. The minister has spoken at length about how talking about this issue is playing politics. I can assure her that some of the underlying factors in this situation are political by their very nature. The take-home story in this situation - underlying the really tragic experiences that a number of families and individuals are having around Tasmania with appalling defects on their building - is the lack of resourcing and capability for enforcement of our regulator, CBOS.

Yes, it is true that some of these things cannot be avoided. Yes, it is true there is civil litigation that will have to take place regardless of what our regulator does. However, it is a fact that the experiences of a number of these families, who have been badly treated by a small proportion of builders have appallingly been let down by the inability of Consumer, Building and Occupational Services, the regulator, to engage with their issue, to guide them through the process of working with their failed builder.

A number of couples have tried to get some support from CBOS and it appears from their testimonies that this has not been forthcoming. That was the ABC story that I am looking at, which was published yesterday.

Another story published yesterday was about Kev Haley and Sonia Gardner, and their terrible experiences with their property at Primrose Sands, trying to build it for their six children. It has been ongoing - the build began in 2016. Here we are five years later and they have spent what was meant to be $630 000, but they have had to spend $340 000 on legal fees. The building is so badly erected and constructed that they will have to tear it down if they want to live there. To rebuild, in today's prices, in our heated building market, would cost them an estimated $2.4 million. That is a house that was quoted and started construction in 2016 for about a quarter of that price, $630 000. That is a truly staggering increase. It is a story, unfortunately, which is replicated numbers of times.

This ABC article also refers to a couple who live in Cygnet, Adriane and Gillian Creamer. They have had an experience where they have been forced to take civil action and it has cost them $150 000 to fix up a $400 000 renovation that went wrong, and $50 000 in legal fees. That is an extra $200 000 on a $400 000 renovation - a 50 per cent increase. It is awful.

The ABC article makes the point that the minister stood up here and rubbished Ms Butler saying that there were more than 100 other people's experiences. Well, the ABC points to 40 that they have, as of yesterday, who have approached the ABC. People do not generally go to the media with their stories but people are desperate.

This is a problem that has been created in large part by the Liberals' failing to properly regulate and enforce the system of certification, and to ensure that when things go wrong builders are identified, actions are taken and they cannot continue on and move from one job to the next job.

Who is the builder who built the Haley Gardner house? Who is the person who did the work for the people in Cygnet? What other people are being exposed to shoddy workmanship from those builders? We all understand very clearly that this is a small proportion of the builders in Tasmania. This is not the majority. We must make sure

Ms Archer - I am glad you said that.

Dr WOODRUFF - That is absolutely the case. I am good friends with lots of builders, and that is absolutely the case but, in a heated market, when prices are high, and people are running from job to job - if someone in Tasmania today wants to get window frames put into their building, I know from a builder yesterday that they will not get them in Tasmania until July next year, minimum; and, actually, with the lag, it will be a year. If you put an order in today - Mr Speaker, I can see you smile at that, but I was shocked. It is shocking. The market is hot and some people are raking in a lot but while this is rush and push, and building materials are not available, people cut corners, it is just a numbers game. People cut corners because they are trying to juggle jobs, because of the pressure. People are desperate to get in by Christmas when they are told that their house was going to be finished in June, and here we are looking at people not being able to move in by Christmas. It is what happens in a hot market - people cut corners, builders cut corners, work people cut corners.

It is not the majority, but it is enough to mean that there should be more resourcing of the regulator to make sure that these things are checked upon.