Media Release 20 July 2022

Master Plumbers and Gasfitters welcome WA Government progress on building reforms, but momentum needs to be maintained

The McGowan Government’s move to kick-start construction industry reforms by registering building engineers is an important step towards reining in WA’s $475m annual bill to fix building defects, according to the peak body for plumbing contractors.

Master Plumbers and Gasfitters Association of WA (MPGAWA) CEO Murray Thomas said the move addresses the Building Confidence Report's first three recommendations, and is part of a reform package to improve the regulation of Western Australia's building industry.

Mr Thomas said the move would send a strong signal to the construction industry that broad reforms were on the way which would deliver better outcomes for the WA community.

“This is a great step in the right direction, and we look forward to further reform commitments that drive higher standards across the entire building and construction industry,” Mr Thomas said.

“Given that the cost of rectifying non-compliant work is on average five per cent of the construction cost, MPGAWA estimate the cost of building defects in WA to be approximately $475 million annually. This cannot be tolerated or accepted as being somehow normal in our industry.

“In this round of reforms, we urge the Government to work to establish a defined training pathway to a hydraulic consulting qualification, which is currently not available.”

Mr Thomas said that while this first found of reforms represents important progress, there is more work needed to improve standards across the board and ultimately outcomes for the WA community.

“For too long there has been a race to the bottom in the construction industry in which pressure to submit the cheapest possible quote flows all the way down the contracting chain,” he said.

“These issues have combined to create a profit-squeezed industry that too often delivers non-compliant work with little or no risk of penalties.

“This is resulting in substantial rectification costs, buildings that are unfit for use, higher insurance and ongoing maintenance costs, higher utility costs due to poor design and installation and serious health and safety hazards including greater risk of loss of life in the event of fire.”

MPGAWA is advocating for a range of sector-wide reform opportunities to drive higher standards in the building and construction industry, including

  • Stronger enforcement of the National Construction Code with serious penalties for non-compliance
  • Mandatory Continuing Professional Development training for each trade
  • Improving the standard of theoretical and practical apprentice training
  • Refining the focus of the Plumbers Licensing Board to target unlicensed operators and
  • Introducing mandatory WaterMark Certification Scheme at point of sale