08 Mar PE Act reforms usher in new regulatory regime
The reforms to the PE Act were passed as part of the Building Industry Fairness (Security of Payment) and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2020 and come into effect on 1 March 2021.
Broadly these reforms will:
Increase the powers of BPEQ’s Legal Compliance and Investigations Unit to be able to more fully access or capture evidence.
Allow for BPEQ to seek a warrant from a Magistrate to enter places, search places, seize evidence relevant to an investigation.
Allow for BPEQ to impose a condition on an engineer’s registration where they have been subject to an investigation without their consent.
These are not controversial amendments and, in many respects, simply bring BPEQ’s powers into line with other professional regulators. As a regulator, BPEQ owes it to the public, and engineers, to distinguish competent and qualified professionals and punish offences against the PE Act.
Investigations concerning engineering activities can be highly complex. As part of any thorough investigation, a regulator must be able to look at all components and persons involved. These reforms mean that BPEQ will have the power to obtain information or documents from other persons, not just the person under investigation.
Entry, search and seizure powers are crucial tools for most regulators. A warrant to enter and search places and seize evidence can only be granted to BPEQ by a Magistrate.
This reform will reduce the risk of crucial evidence being overlooked, withheld or destroyed, hindering an investigation.
BPEQ is released from the requirement to seek an engineer’s agreement before imposing a condition on their registration. If someone does the wrong thing, and that is proven, the regulator should unilaterally decide what repercussions that person faces – for instance, a person caught drink driving does not have input into the period their licence is suspended.
BPEQ also now has the power to issue Penalty Infringement Notices (PIN). A PIN can be issued for specific and identifiable offences in the PE Act and provides the Board an alternative to prosecution through the court system. However, a PIN can be disputed by the recipient and they can take the matter to court.
RPEQs tell BPEQ that they want the organisation to do more to protect the interests and standing of the profession. RPEQs have earned the right to call themselves a RPEQ and expect BPEQ to take firm action against those that have not earned that right and flout the law.
These reforms will make BPEQ a more efficient and proactive regulator.
To find out more about the Building Industry Fairness (Security of Payment) and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2020 visit www.epw.qld.gov.au/news-publications/legislation/building/bifola-2020.