PROPERTY DEVELOPER LICENSING
Property Developers: they wield incredible power over our community. They design, commission and eventually sell the projects that define our built environment, in the process extracting incredible profits from Australia’s booming real estate markets, and dictating terms to builders, construction workers and consumers alike. So it might come as a surprise to learn that property development is almost entirely unregulated. Anyone rich or connected enough to get their hands on land can make decisions that change the way the rest of us live, no matter how many failed projects, burnt customers or criminal convictions might be lurking in their past. In the process of maximising their speculative profits, they take every unfair opportunity to squeeze Canberran construction firms and workers on one end, and homebuyers and businesses on the other- and right now, there’s nothing anyone can do about it. It's time to rein in these cowboys.
WHAT DOES CANBERRA THINK
An overwhelming majority of Canberrans want the ACT Government to get tougher on property developers and urgently introduce a licensing regime, according to new polling conducted by RedBridge and commissioned by the CFMEU ACT.
of Canberrans want the government to introduce a new license which would require property developers to demonstrate financial capacity to complete any proposed developments and a commitment to ethical behaviour
of Canberrans agree (56% strongly agree) that property developers have too much unrestricted power in Canberra (versus 10% disagree)
76% of Canberrans agree (56% strong agree) that developers in Canberra are too reckless about adhering to community standards and need stricter controls (versus 9% disagree)
WHAT WILL A LICENSE LOOK LIKE?
We do not know the exact details of what an ACT property developer license will look like, however, we are calling for the government to implement a broad license that will require developers to:
Demonstrate a commitment to ongoing ethical behaviour
Not engage in phoenix activity or other unfair commercial practices
Not engage in misleading or deceptive conduct in the course of marketing a development to the public
Accept liability for industrial practices, environmental impacts, building quality and the health and safety of workers on sites that they control or have influence over;
Publicly disclose the source of funding of any development
Nominate a natural person as a nominee.
After a litany of development issues, the ACT Government committed to introducing a property developer licensing scheme in 2019. In 2021, Sustainable Building and Construction Minister Rebecca Vassarotti said the government would announce a scheme in the second half of 2022. But ACT property developers are vehemently opposed to a licensing scheme.
We have no doubt Ms Vassarotti has been the target of intense pressure from the powerful developers lobby in Canberra. They want her to back off on licensing, but she should tell them to take a running jump,
A proper licensing regime would send a powerful message to property developers that the free-for-all is over and they now have to respect the standards of the Canberra community.
Our union has been very supportive of a developer licensing scheme because shonky developers and poor developer behaviour leads to underpayment of workers, substandard conditions, and poor safety on site.
If you want to drive a car, breed a kitten, or sell a beer in Canberra you'll need a license. But if you want to fundamentally alter the city, employ hundreds of contractors, and collect millions of dollars from ordinary people you don't have to worry.
ACT Seceratery Zach Smith