Cranes in Sydney constructing new high rise buildings

Building Ministers made three significant decisions during the March session of the Building Ministers Meeting.

Ministers see substantial potential to address Australia’s housing supply shortfall by promoting the growth of prefabricated and modular housing.

They therefore directed the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) to consult with industry and recommend regulatory improvements that would stimulate Australia’s prefabricated and modular housing industry. 

Secondly, they agreed to release the next version of the National Construction Code for public consultation on 1 May 2024. 

Finally, they committed to a new round of Industry Dialogues, including discussion on reducing barriers to decarbonisation within the construction sector.

Prefabricated and Modular Housing

Ministers reiterated the national target to construct 1.2 million new homes over the next five years and the need to address constraints to achieving the target and agreed on the need to pull all available levers to address these constraints.

Ministers discussed the opportunities presented by recent developments in advanced manufacturing, supply chain and building techniques to reduce the cost of new homes by using prefabricated and modular housing.

Ministers committed to improving regulatory certainty for the sector. To this end, they have tasked the ABCB to work with industry and local governments to clarify existing regulatory pathways through a new guidance paper and undertake a comprehensive review of regulation improvements to reduce red tape.

NCC 2025

Ministers were presented with the draft version of the next edition of the National Construction Code.

They recognised the need to give industry an appropriate period of time to properly respond to the draft code.

The next edition of the NCC will be released for public consultation on 1 May 2024, with consultation closing on 1 July 2024.

Ministers received positive feedback about the improved method of stakeholder consultation, including public forums and direct engagement with industry leaders undertaken by the Chair and CEO of the ABCB to date. The ABCB will hold further industry forums around the country in the coming months, and work with local industry and stakeholder groups. Ministers will also consult directly with industry on the draft Code at Industry Dialogues in both May and August this year.

Net Zero Built Environment Sector Plan

Ministers acknowledged the importance of decarbonising the building sector in achieving the emissions reductions and net zero targets set by state and territory governments, and Australia’s Paris Commitments.

Ministers noted the work underway to develop the Commonwealth’s Net Zero Built Environment Sector Plan (BESP), which will provide an emissions reduction pathway for the sector to 2050.

The BESP will underpin development of the Commonwealth’s Net Zero Plan to transition Australia to a net zero economy.

Ministers also acknowledged the July 2023 commitment made by Energy Ministers, through the Energy and Climate Ministerial Council (ECMC), to update the Trajectory for Low Energy Buildings.

Ministers discussed options to support improvements to energy efficiency, fuel-switching and reducing embodied emissions in construction materials.

Ministers agreed to keep working together to address barriers to the decarbonisation of buildings covered by the NCC. They also committed to discussing these issues with industry at the next Building Ministers’ Industry Dialogue meeting.

Australian Building Codes Board

Ministers agreed to appoint Ms Frankie Muskovic to the ABCB Board as an industry representative. Ms Muskovic brings a depth of experience in the building sector.

Next Building Ministers Meeting

Ministers agreed to hold the next BMM in June 2024 and convene an industry dialogue in May.

NOTE: The Tasmanian Building Minister was not present at the meeting due to the March 2024 Tasmanian government election.