For latest news; see bottom of post.
I am grateful to Matthew Bell for drawing my attention to the recent report of the the Transport, Housing and Local Government Committee Report N0 52 in Queensland.
It is not a very promising title, but nevertheless it is both interesting and important in this area. It arises in this way:
- Since 2004, private companies have been in the business of nominating adjudicators for construction disputes in Queensland. They are known as Authorised Nominating Authorities, or ANAs. The busiest ANA has been Adjudicate Today, whose chief adjudicator has been Philip Davenport;
- It has always been a distinctly suspect system. For-profit companies have been making their money by marketing the adjudication process to potential claimants, charging potential adjudicators for training, and then charging the adjudicators again a cut of their fees as a condition of appointing them;
- There has been a chorus of complains about the way the system has worked;
- Recently, Mr Davenport parted company from Adjudicate Today, apparently unhappy about the way it works, and set up a new ANA;
- Last year, a Queensland barrister, Andrew Wallace, delivered his report to the Queensland government. Mr Wallace was particularly critical of the ANAs, the expression “conflict of interest” appearing 14 times and the word “bias” appearing no less than 61 times. Sensibly enough, he suggested that adjudicators ought to be nominated by a government agency in place of the ANAs;
- The Building and Construction Industry Payments Bill 2014 was drawn up to implement the substance of Mr Wallace’s recommendations;
- The ANAs did not welcome these changes, which would of course severely affect their income stream. In the May this year, the Bill was sent off to the Committee for examination.
This new report is the result of that examination. In substance, it supports the Wallace recommendations, and the Bill. With supreme blitheness, the Report entirely ignores any considerations of a national approach, but within the context of a state bubble, it is surprisingly well-written and perceptive.
One of the more interesting features of the Report is that it quotes this view submitted by Philip Davenport:
Although I am half owner and a director of an authorised nominating authority, I think the abolition of authorised nominating authorities is necessary to avoid abuses within the system.
Some might find this surprisingly refreshing in its honesty, as a view “from the inside”.
The Department apparently advised that the ANAs were not being “abolished”, although if an authorised nominating authority is no longer authorised to do any nominating, it is edging up towards the abolition end of the scale.
Another remarkable feature of the Report is that its deputy chairwoman, Mrs Desley Scott, who is the Labor Party’s Shadow Minister for things like Mental Health, Women and Seniors, has indicated her party’s dissent, which will apparently be ventilated during the parliamentary debate on the amending Bill. Strange it is that the Labor Party should be championing the interests of the pro-profit companies who proved so unpopular in the two reports.
The Labor party did object to the Bill, but the government has pushed it through anyway, with extraordinary speed. See https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/work-of-assembly/bills-and-legislation/current-bills-register. The Bill is law. Goodbye, ANAs in Queensland.