Victoria and the Zombie Apocalypse: The Place to Be?


People often ask me how I survive the bitter cut and thrust of office politics and still have time to put out my blog. To tell the truth, there’s not a lot of action around the TEYS Lawyers water cooler. That’s mainly because we don’t have one.

However, as in every workplace, there can be subtle and hidden tensions. For example, one thing on which Michael Teys and I do not see eye to eye is the imminence of the Zombie Apocalypse. We tiptoe around the topic but I intuit that he believes that it is not very realistic and it’s just not gonna happen, ever, period.

I suppose Victorians probably thought the possibility of systemic corruption in the system of builder registration was the same – it is not very realistic and it just doesn’t happen, ever, period.

However, just over a year ago, Melbournians awoke to the following headline on the front page of The Age: “Warning on thousands of buildings”.

The ruckus arose from a report by the Victorian Ombudsman being tabled in the Victorian Parliament which found, amongst other things, that builders who had failed competency assessments were granted registration and others were approved despite not having sat any tests at all. There was also evidence of an “industry” where third parties would illegally complete required paperwork on behalf of applicants in return for a fee.

The Ombudsman called for an investigation into all building registrations approved by a former long-serving Builders Practitioners Board registrar, Mr Peter Brilliant, who personally approved hundreds – possibly thousands – of licences between 1998 and 2012. Ah yes, just what Victorian apartment owners needed, a joker in the pack of allied building professionals.

So, in response the Victorian Building Commission (now known as the Victorian Building Authority) accepted this recommendation by the Ombudsman and begun this investigation.

It is now late February 2014 and the apartment owners of Victoria are not any closer to knowing if their apartment block was built by a builder who shouldn’t have been licensed. The question is, how long will this investigation take? I suspect it will only be complete after the next state election which is due this year.

As Bernard Woolley remarked in Yes, Minister “Two kinds of government correspond with the two kinds of minister: one sort folds up instantly and the other sort goes round and round in circles.”

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