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Is BIFA ‘Future Fit’?

Michael Chesterman
Michael Chesterman March 5, 2018

Early this year I was interviewed by Chris Herde, of News Corporation. On 12 January 2018 an article appeared in the Courier Mail where I discussed issues associated with the need for the development and implementation of suitable and effective regulation for the building and construction industry in the face of massive transformation through innovation.

With that in mind it should be noted that the government is now progressing the implementation of the various reform initiatives contained in Building Industry Fairness (Security of Payment ) Act 2017 (BIFA). The most recent information in this regard is a statement from Minister de Brenni dated 1 March 2019.

With the announcement of Quantum Physicist Professor Michelle Yvonne Simmons, as this year’s Australian of the Year, I have recently reflected on how quickly the building and construction industry is been transformed through innovation and whether BIFA represents ‘future fit’ regulation of the industry.

In my opinion, none of the BIFA initiatives represent transformative thinking to address Security of Payment concerns, a fact I pointed out in a previously authored article entitled ‘Construction Innovation — It’s not just about apps!’ I am strongly of the view that ‘future fit’ regulation of the industry must not impede construction innovation, and in fact should be such that it encourages innovation.

Let’s take a minute to reflect on what Professor Simmons is looking to achieve and how this may impact future innovation in the industry. As outlined in an online ABC article she is looking to build a quantum computer capable of solving problems in minutes, which would otherwise take thousands of years. Such a discovery has the potential to revolutionise drug design, weather forecasting, self-driving vehicles and artificial Intelligence”.

Artificial Intelligence is already transforming many construction industry practices and processes without the benefit of such a futuristic computer so it is mind blowing what may happen in this space should Professor Simmons or someone like her, achieve their stated goal. Quite aside from Professor Simmons work, it is reported that China is building a $2 billion office park in Beijing just for artificial intelligence.

I have read a lot of articles where vastly different views are expressed as to the extent innovation will reshape the construction industry going forward and the timeline for any such advancements. To encourage some discussion around the water cooler I invite you to read “Countdown to Human-Free Construction in Less Than 10 Years”. I am not yet personally prepared to embrace all these predictions but I am entirely open minded to the possibility of such a future high tech industry. At the very least we owe it to the people currently working in the industry to contemplate such a future because there will be significant people skills and retraining issues that need to be considered now if the industry evolves along these lines.

Regardless of the speed and extent innovation advancements transform the industry, rapidly changing industry practices and procedures to some extent are inevitable.

There will be no winding back the clock.

We at Helix Legal assist existing and new construction industry participants to navigate the regulatory environment and structure their businesses in such a manner so as to take advantage of exciting new developments. We are committed to a strong, ethical and safe construction future but equally open minded to how this can be achieved. Come along on 27 March 2018 and join the conversation.

Not intended as legal advice. Read full disclaimer.
Michael Chesterman
Michael Chesterman March 5, 2018

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