2020 has been a difficult and turbulent year for many, starting with the devastating bushfires quickly followed by the unprecedented and lasting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal and State Governments enacted emergency legislation to provide temporary relief measures for individuals and businesses, with these measures extended throughout the year. The provisions providing a temporary safe harbour for directors from personal liability for insolvent trading and the temporary changes to the creditors statutory demand regime are due to expire on 31 December 2020. Businesses should be taking urgent steps to prepare for this deadline to avoid a New Years Day hangover that is worse than usual.
In addition to the COVID-19 emergency measures, NSW has continued with its structural legislative reforms aimed at improving quality and public confidence in the construction sector. The roadmap for reform of the construction sector was announced in February 2020, with the NSW Government’s Six Pillar Reform Plan targeted at:
- Building a customer service regulatory framework
- Building rates systems
- Building skills and capabilities
- Building better procurement methods
- Building a digital future
- Building the reputation for quality research
Industry and government working groups are focused on actioning each of the Six Pillars, and Nexus will continue to closely follow and report on developments throughout the course of 2021.
Key legislative moments for Australia’s Construction & Infrastructure industry this year included:
- Introduction of the Coronavirus Economic Response Package Omnibus Act 2020 (Cth) implementing temporary changes to the creditors statutory demand regime with an increase of the statutory minimum from $2,000 to $20,000 and the statutory period from 21 days to 6 months, and temporary relief for directors from their personal duty to prevent insolvent trading. This relief package is due to expire 31 December 2020.
- Design and Building Practitioners Act 2020 (commenced in part on 10 June 2020, with the statutory duty of care provisions in effect from that date and the balance of the Act apart from the specialist work provisions scheduled to commence on 1 July 2021).
- Design and Building Practitioners – Draft Regulations, which are planned to commence in 2021, were released November 2020 and are currently going through the public consultation process, with public submissions on the proposed regulations due by 11 January 2021.
- Building and Development Certifiers Act 2018 and Building and Development Certifiers Regulation 2020 commenced on 1 July 2020.
- Adoption of the out of cycle NCC 2019 Amendment 1 on 1 July 2020.
- Residential Apartment Buildings (Compliance and Enforcement Powers) Act 2020 commenced on 1 September 2020.
- Announcement of Project Remediate in November 2020 by the NSW Government targeting at meeting the interest costs on commercial loans for high risk combustible cladding remediation and quality assurance measures for the remediation works.
- The Supreme Court of NSW finding in November 2020 against business interruption insurers, holding that an exclusion clause which is commonly used in business interruption insurance policies, referring to legislation that was repealed prior to the COVID19 pandemic, cannot be relied upon to exclude claims for business interruption due to COVID19
The Construction sector remains a driving force for the economy and Nexus looks forward to working with you in 2021 to help navigate and succeed in this new legislative landscape.
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