We appreciate both the OAG’s acknowledgement of what we are doing well, as a well as identifying some improvement opportunities. We were especially proud of our very short turnaround times in relation to the other audited local governments and intend to continue to provide a high level of service to our community.
In relation to the recommendations made, we provide the following comment that we will include in the Action Plan required under 7.12A of the Local Government Act 1995:
City of Albany’s specific responses to recommendations
1b. Subject to privacy considerations, our reporting processes have been modified to comply with these requirements.
1c. We will continue to comply with legislative requirements.
1d. The City of Albany has a Regulatory Compliance Policy and Guideline to ensure these recommendations are met.
3. The City of Albany agree to this and have implemented processes to immediately comply.
The City views the building control function as critical for ensuring community safety. In this regard, the speed of processing applications should not be a key metric. Instead, the City believes the community expect a vigorous assessment of building applications and the City is pleased that the OAG has recognised this while also noting the City complies with statutory timeframes.
The City notes that mandatory inspections of building construction is not required under current legislation. The City is not opposed to mandatory building inspections, but if this outcome is desired, the function should be self-funded to ensure that the wider community is not asked to pay for a function which has a very specific benefit.
City of Joondalup
The City of Joondalup (“the City”) supports the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) and its responsibility for carrying out performance audits within local governments. Prior to being included as one of the local governments in this audit, the City has found value in reviewing previous OAG reports to determine if any issues affecting other local governments exist at the City and if improvements to the control environment are necessary.
The City appreciates the opportunity to participate in the Local Government Building Approvals Performance Audit and accepts all the recommendations made by the OAG which will be, or already have been implemented to improve the City’s systems for assessing building permit applications and build a more effective monitoring and enforcement regime to improve compliance.
The City is always willing to cooperate with any other government entities, including the Building Commission (now known as Building and Energy within the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety) and the building industry, to improve the regulation of building permits and introduce a more consistent approach across the entire local government sector for the benefit of all stakeholders.
City of Joondalup’s specific responses to recommendations
1a. Written declarations of interest from assessment staff was implemented in April 2019.
1b. The City will consider appropriate ways to inform the community and industry on these matters. Permit information is already provided to the Building Commission (Building and Energy). Information on the number, value and type (residential or non-residential) of building permits is already included in the City’s Annual Report.
1c. As the current fee structure is cost neutral, if this approach is to be progressed there needs to be recognition in the statutory fee structure of the costs that would be incurred in applying this approach.
1d. A protocol to provide improved guidance will be developed.
2. Agree and implemented. Permits have always been determined by appropriately qualified and trained staff, and this delegation was only to allow for the administrative issuing of permits.
To provide better clarity around the delegation (Building Act 2011 – Granting Building and Demolition Permit Applications, Building Approval Certificates, Building Certificate Strata, Occupancy Permits) it has been amended to reflect firstly its administrative intent, and secondly by providing a new condition that clarifies the delegation is restricted to administratively granting certificates and permits that have the relevant certifications of building compliance, construction compliance and/or design compliance, as certified and issued by a person meeting the qualification requirements of the Building Services (Registration) Regulations 2011.
Some sub-delegations from the Chief Executive Officer to employees have been removed as they do not form part of the building application approval process.
- Agree and implemented. This practice ceased on 17 January 2019 and the time now being recorded accurately reflects the date a building application is received until the issue of the permit.
In acknowledging the findings and recommendations of this report, the City of Mandurah is broadly supportive of the recommendation to initiate building inspections. However, it is important that, despite the presence of localised activity, this is regulator-driven, consistent across all local governments and proposes a fee structure which enables local governments to recoup the cost of inspections.
The Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety’s Building and Energy Division is comfortable with the findings of the report and supports the recommendations.
Building and Energy’s specific responses to recommendations
- Building and Energy agrees unconditionally with these recommendations 1. a, b, c and d.
- Building and Energy agrees with recommendations 2 and 3. We suggest the recommendations should apply generally to all local government permit authorities, not just the four audited.
- As above.
- Agree with a, and b by December 2019. Building and Energy has been working with local government permit authorities on ways to implement more consistent practices. The goal is to align practices as a first step which will then pave the way for further streamlining of the permit application and approval processes.
In 2015, the former Building Commission published a “Guide to the building approvals process in Western Australia” to assist local government authorities, consumers and the building industry understand the permit application and approval process as prescribed under the Building Act.
Building and Energy will consult with local government permit authorities on the merits of further publications and other mechanisms to improve consistency in these processes.