- Providing safe workplaces is a top regulatory priority for DMIRS. The bringing together of WorkSafe and Resources Safety into the Safety Regulation Group has provided an opportunity to share regulatory experiences and practices and consider different approaches. The department’s support for the new independent WorkSafe WA Commissioner, Darren Kavanagh, has also brought a new focus to workplace safety regulation.
- In response to the recommendations and findings of the Legislative Assembly’s Education and Health Standing Committee’s final report on the impact of fly-in fly-out (FIFO) work practices on mental health, in April 2019 the code of practice for mentally healthy workplaces for FIFO workers in the Western Australian resources and construction sectors was launched, as outlined in Our performance.
- Health and hygiene management plans are now required for mining operations and are maintained on the safety regulation system. Mining companies have six months to comply with this requirement.
- Following reports in 2017 of stonemasons in Queensland being diagnosed with silicosis, a proactive campaign focussing on silica in the stone benchtop industry is being undertaken by DMIRS. To help prevent occupational disease associated with exposure to silica dust in the workplace, strategies include the release of guidance and information for industry, educational activities for medical practitioners conducting health surveillance, and workplace inspections to raise awareness and improve work practices and compliance. This proactive campaign will continue and be expanded in 2019-20, incorporating air monitoring and inspections of workplaces in other high-risk industries.
- In June 2017, the Public Administration Committee of the Legislative Council commenced an inquiry to:
- review the adequacy of existing Occupational Health and Safety laws;
- review WorkSafe’s processes and resourcing; and
- make appropriate recommendations with the aim of improving workplace safety.
- Submissions were invited, hearings were held and when released, the inquiry’s report may have implications for existing inspector training, industry guidance, online systems, notification processes and other functions.
- With over 1,000 licensed asbestos removalists listed on the department’s website, another issue for DMIRS, or more specifically WorkSafe, is regulating the removal of asbestos in Western Australia. In the 1980s Australian governments began banning the material due to concerns about asbestos-related deaths and diseases, with a national ban on all uses of asbestos coming into effect on 31 December 2003.
- Following the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy in London in June 2017 and other building compliance issues in Australia, the Building Ministers’ Forum commissioned an independent expert report Building Confidence: improving the effectiveness of compliance and enforcement systems for the building and construction industry across Australia (the report) by Professor Peter Shergold AC and Ms Bronwyn Weir. A number of regulatory failures in the building and construction sector and related building occupations were identified in the report.
Recommendations included a wide range of reforms that will have significant impacts on building occupants; a range of building related occupations, such as engineers and building designers; and building regulators (including DMIRS, local governments and the Architects Board of Western Australia).
In response to this report, DMIRS is reviewing three major policy projects:
A series of public discussion papers arising out of those projects and containing proposals for reform are due to be released in the second half of 2019 to commence the formal consultation process with the public and industry.
- the residential building approval process (Building Codes Australia [BCA] Class 1a and 10);
- the registration requirements for the building industry; and
- the commercial building approval process (BCA Class 2 to 9).
In 2017, the government’s Service Priority Review found that economic, environmental and social opportunities could be maximised by developing and implementing regulation and regulatory practices that are risk-based and outcomes-focused.
In response, on 6 December 2018, Streamline WA was launched. Streamline WA is a whole-of-government approach to making it easier to do business in Western Australia by improving regulation and regulatory practice. It is led by a Steering Committee, which is co-chaired by DMIRS’ Director General and the Director General of the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation. DMIRS provides secretariat support to the Steering Committee and both departments are working collaboratively to implement regulatory reform projects that will make it easier for industry and the community to interact with government.
Sterling First, the flagship of a group of several property management and investment companies (the Sterling First Group), entered voluntary administration with KPMG (formerly Ferrier Hodgson) on 3 May 2019. The demise of Sterling First and its subsidiary companies is primarily an investment issue, and the responsibility for action lies with the Commonwealth Government.
DMIRS raised this matter with the Commonwealth regulator, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) on 12 April 2017. It is understood there are some 99 investors in Western Australia (101 nationally) affected by the insolvency of Sterling First and the dissolution of the investment scheme. Until the business enters liquidation, consumers affected will not have access to their invested funds except for those recovered for secured and unsecured creditors.
To assist those affected by the collapse, DMIRS is working to provide a single WA Government contact point. Work is being undertaken to provide coordinated assistance through other parties, such as Department of Communities (Housing), TenancyWA, AccessWA (through pro bono legal services) and, as relevant, ASIC.
Through its state-wide cladding audit, DMIRS has taken responsibility for identifying and assessing buildings with unsafe combustible cladding. During a detailed risk assessment process, 475 privately-owned buildings were assessed and 423 buildings were eliminated from further review without any costs being borne by building owners. DMIRS has referred 52 buildings to permit authorities for enforcement actions.
Making it easier for our customers to do business with us
The amalgamation of licensing services that occurred in 2017–18 has continued to produce efficient, streamlined and consistent services for licensees and applicants. Licensing Services administers over 400,000 occupational licences for and on behalf of three statutory Boards and five statutory office holders. During 2018–19 DMIRS processed over 125,000 licences. A number of continuous improvement initiatives were undertaken during the year to reduce the regulatory burden on Western Australians such as:
- Both of these initiatives support the following licensing authorities: Building Services Board; Plumbers Licensing Board; Director of Energy Safety; Electrical Licensing Board; Commissioner for Consumer Protection; and WorkSafe WA Commissioner.
- Developing approvals, online systems and advice services that respond to the increasing needs of business and customers is a priority in Towards 2024. As such, DMIRS was focused on maximising our digital delivery and monitoring our performance.
DMIRS has identified opportunities to improve approval and licensing processes by reducing duplication and increasing the transparency of DMIRS licensing performance. New whole-of- approval performance reporting across a number of licensing schemes, makes DMIRS more accountable to the public and industry.
Modernisation of laws
A high priority for the Government and DMIRS, is the development of modern safety and health laws for Western Australia incorporating mines, petroleum and general safety into one Work Health and Safety Act (the Act) based on the National Model Work Health and Safety laws.
The department has conducted an extensive consultation process and the Work Health and Safety Bill is expected to be introduced into Parliament in 2019 for consideration by Parliament during 2019-20.
It is intended that the Act be supported by separate sets of regulations applying to workplaces generally in Western Australia, the mines sector, and the petroleum and geothermal sector. Comprehensive state-wide consultation will be required to provide recommendations for developing the three sets of regulations.
The introduction of new legislation will have implications for existing industry guidance, inspector training, online systems, notification processes and other functions. Further detail on this work can be found in Our performance.
The Consumer Protection Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 was introduced into Parliament on 10 October 2018. This bill proposes changes to legislation that, if enacted, will increase various penalties, support the department’s compliance activities, enable tenants to secure furniture to prevent injuries and expand the trigger for claims against home indemnity insurance and fidelity funds. The department has commenced initiatives in preparation for the bill becoming law.
DMIRS continued its work on reviewing its tenancy- related laws to support Government-wide strategic objectives for housing. Preparations for a review of the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 are underway and work on preparing for the next round of public consultations on proposed reforms to the Retirement Villages Act 1992 continue.
The Residential Parks (Long-stay Tenants) Amendment Bill 2018 was introduced to Parliament on 17 October 2018. The Bill implements the reforms recommended following the statutory review of the Act. These reforms will provide greater certainty and transparency about contracts and costs.
A review of the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act 1973 and the Motor Vehicle Repairers Act 2003 has concluded and recommendations made to improve regulation of the sectors. Legislation will be developed to implement the recommendations from the review. The regulatory framework for the motor vehicle sector in Western Australia will be improved for the benefit of consumers, dealers and repair businesses.
A review of the operation of the Disposal of Uncollected Goods Act 1970 will be undertaken and recommendations to remove unnecessary regulatory processes and modernise the Act will be advanced. This will result in a simplified and streamlined process for disposing of uncollected or abandoned goods.
- In 2013–14, a wide-ranging review of Western Australia’s plumbing regulatory framework was undertaken by ACIL Allen Consulting. The review made 51 recommendations for change, many of which have been implemented. Implementing the remaining recommendations will require significant legislative and regulatory reform. Consultation and the drafting of legislative amendments will take place during 2019–20.
The proposed reforms will deliver much needed legislative change and ensure that WA has a modern, flexible and efficient regulatory framework for plumbing that provides the necessary consumer and public health protections, while enabling industry to innovate and adopt new technologies and practices.
In response to the government’s Service Priority Review, DMIRS is supporting the implementation of several initiatives under the Roadmap for Reform. Examples include conversion to permanency arrangements, temporary labour hire, industrial relations support to government trading enterprises, and wages policy.
In April 2019, the government announced its first stage legislative response to the Ministerial Review of the State Industrial Relations System by Mark Ritter SC and Stephen Price MLA, and released the Final Report of the Review. DMIRS is managing the process of implementing the proposed legislative reforms, which are aimed at increasing protections for workers.
The department will be supporting the Inquiry into Wage Theft and progressing the recommendations that are adopted by government.
DMIRS is responsible for implementing several of the government’s public sector workforce commitments, such as, conversion and appointment to permanency framework, a review of the redeployment and redundancy framework, and improving agency practices.
Mr John Fiocco and the Hon Matthew Swinbourn MLC were appointed to undertake an inquiry and targeted consultation with key industry stakeholders, and provide a report with recommendations for law reform to improve payment protections in the building and construction industry. The Fiocco Report was provided to the Minister for Commerce on 31 October 2018. The report contained a number of recommendations that provide a roadmap for improving payment protections for WA subcontractors. DMIRS will have a lead role in the implementation of the recommendations.
In November 2018, the Government announced the introduction of new ticket scalping legislation to restrict the resale of event tickets and provide additional protections to consumers who purchase tickets on the ticket re-seller market.
The new legislation will give the Commissioner for Consumer Protection the power to enforce anti-ticket scalping measures, with breaches of the legislation seeing individuals fined up to a maximum of $20,000 and body corporates fined up to a maximum of $100,000. The department will be undertaking a program of community engagement and compliance activities to administer and enforce the new measures.