ABCB Business Plan and the NCC
Ministers agreed to task the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) with new business plan priorities. Key initiatives include adequacy and equity of female sanitary facilities, commercial energy efficiency and improved provisions for electric vehicle (EV) charging.
The ABCB will continue to work on time-critical matters, such as clarifying National Construction Code (NCC) requirements for intensive horticulture buildings, reviewing car park fire safety and examining the fire safety, condensation and weatherproofing requirements for modern building construction.
Ministers directed the ABCB to publish a summary of its approved business plan as soon as possible to give industry early awareness of future reforms.
Ministers tasked the ABCB to prepare amendments to the NCC to support safe EV charging in buildings, including consultation with industry bodies, regulators and fire authorities.
New measures will be investigated for the next edition of the NCC to make EV charging easier in new homes and in non-residential and commercial buildings.
Ministers endorsed the ABCB issuing guidance to support the safe installation of EV charging equipment.
The ABCB will continue to investigate ways to improve confidence in the safety and charging of EVs in buildings.
Early Childhood Centres
In 2019 and 2020, to support women’s workforce participation and make early education workplaces as safe as possible, Building Ministers directed the ABCB to improve fire safety provisions for early childhood centres and primary schools located in multi-storey buildings.
These improvements were codified in NCC 2019 Amendment 1 and NCC 2022.
Today, Ministers considered the significant progress made with the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) and other regulatory authorities to ensure the fire safety requirements of the NCC and ACECQA’s National Quality Framework adequately protect children during an emergency.
The ABCB and ACECQA will jointly publish information for industry and regulatory authorities about their respective roles and regulatory requirements. Together, these requirements will ensure children’s health, safety and wellbeing during emergency evacuations from multi-storey buildings.
Ministers agreed to task the ABCB to monitor the sector and review these requirements following the next NCC amendment cycle.
Ministers noted the significant economic challenges facing the building industry including supply chain, cost and workforce pressures, which have led to insolvencies in the sector.
Ministers noted the work undertaken by the Commonwealth, state and territory senior officials and the ABCB to identify factors constraining the market at the moment, as well as possible opportunities to bolster capacity and alleviate cost pressures.
Officials will continue to update this work and monitor and report back to the BMM with further work to ensure all possible responses to this critical issue can be considered.
Other current industry issues
Ministers agreed to engage with industry on a range of issues including industry sustainability and capacity, and timing of future regulatory reform, through the reinstatement of a national dialogue with industry and key stakeholders.
Ministers discussed a range of matters including security of payment issues and noted that the Australian Government is undertaking further consideration of this matter.
To further support national emissions reduction targets, Ministers also discussed the measurement of indirect and embodied carbon emissions generated by the building sector, with a view to determine whether to pursue a nationally consistent approach.
Ministers agreed to hold the next BMM in early September 2023 and to convene a national dialogue with industry prior to the next BMM, to ensure they hear directly about issues faced by the sector.