Spencer Street Fire abc.net.au 4 Feb 2019

These are the famous words of Bob Dylan which echo through my ears as I watch yet another fire break out in a Multi-Apartment building- in this case the Spencer Street Fire in Melbourne in early February 2019. Thank heavens no-one was injured or killed in this incident. See the ABC News item for more information (below).

I had just created a new LinkedIn Action Group called The Property Development Doctor which alludes to the malaise in the multi-apartment high rise sector related to this issue.

I posted an Image Gallery of Defects at the same time which lets us not forget these incidents:

Gallery of Defects- Dr Jonathan Drane- refer other sources in graphic also

I felt quite good about this but as I posted the new group intro, almost at the moment of its conception, I looked over at the ABC News piece on the tv about the Spencer Street fire.


This made me boil with anger and thus a new action group was formed with some serendipity. I then remembered and revisited the last National Reports that were commissioned on this issue and found that little had apparently been done to progress them toward a solution.

The reports were completed in February 2018:

  1. The Building Products Innovation Council’s Report which arose from the Building Industry Regulatory Reform Summit held in February 2018. Here are the links to the summit and report.


Rebuilding Confidence: An Action Plan for Building Regulatory Reform

Reviewing this report (originally termed a White Paper) and the national experts that work-shopped solutions and of which I was an historian of sorts, was a major achievement by the BPIC, its supporters, attendees, partners and sponsors.

Take time to look at the gallery of experts and each of their presentations are posted on the above web page and formed a part of the report.

The report was issued to the Building Minister’s Forum which can be found on this link:


The Forum’s key objective:

The Building Ministers’ Forum (BMF) oversees policy and regulatory issues affecting Australia’s building and construction industries.

2. The Shergold and Weir Report February 2018

This report was commissioned by the Building Minister’s Forum and is shown on their web page link noted above. Here is the report:

Building Confidence: Improving the effectiveness of compliance and enforcement systems for the building industry across Australia.

Its terms of reference note:

Based on the outcome of the Assessment, Professor Shergold and Ms Weir were asked to consider strategies for improving compliance and enforcement practices and to make recommendations for a national best practice model for compliance and enforcement to strengthen the effective implementation of the NCC.

Earlier Reports exist and go back to the early 1990s where regulation reforms were made but seem set in stone. The more recent reports included The Lambert Report of 2015 (commissioned by the BPB (Building Professionals Board) which I contributed to briefly and the Wallace Report 2014 commissioned by the Queensland Government.

So What Is Happening ?

I am aware that the BPIC report has been issued to the Building Minister’s Forum and no formal response has been made to it. Their web site does not refer to this report but does show the Shergold-Weir report possibly since it was commissioned by the Minister’s Forum.

These reports are invaluable for understanding the issues related to regulation and professional practices and the gaps in the system. Their contributors are experts, the research that they undertook was extensive, their recommendations clear and practical, and yet I still see no apparent development in the resolution of this issue in the Multi-Apartment sector which is threatening the lives of their inhabitants.

Perhaps it would help for the Minister’s to play a little Bob Dylan to snap them into action. It is worth a go but I wont hold my breath:

Dr Jonathan Drane, Managing Director, Optimum Search Pty Ltd est 1993, Independent Research and Advisory.

By jon@jondrane.net

Dr Jonathan Drane is an independent researcher and advisor to government, corporate, legal and academic sectors. He applies research methods to solve complex problems through project analysis in the commercial construction and development sector. Jonathan is a recognised expert in city precinct development with an emphasis on activation of dormant cityscapes. Jonathan’s doctoral research project (2011 to 2014) studied dormant cityscapes in several Australian regional cities and how they were bought to life. Going beyond just a research emphasis he was involved in the revitalisation of the Palmer Street Precinct, Townsville (2003 to 2008) as a catalyst developer. In this way he has both researched and been involved as a practitioner in this specific field of urban activation. His advisory profile ranges from planning urban development of dormant cityscapes, to forensic analysis of complex construction and property development problems in legal and industry situations. Jonathan is also a recognised award winning author in the non-fiction and historical genre winning an award for his first book on the Camino de Santiago (The Way of a Thousand Arrows) in 2007 with the NSW Writers Centre.

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