15 Apr 2013

Building Minister backs whistleblowing legislation

9:32 pm on 15 April 2013

The Minister of Building and Construction says legislation protecting engineers who choose to blow the whistle about potentially dangerous buildings could be in place within the next 12 months.

Engineers can be sued if they raise questions about safety and it is later found that their concerns are not valid.

But following recommendations from the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission, the Government is working on legislation to protect engineers so they don't shy away from whistleblowing.

The Government has accepted almost all the recommendations made in the third and final report from the Royal Commission which focused on building failure during the devastating February 2011 quake.

The report made recommendations to improve how buildings are managed after a disaster, particularly concerning the rapid assessment process and the placarding system.

Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson told Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint programme on Monday that legislation could be ready in the next 12 months and meant any issues with building safety could be made known to the right authorities.

"If we can get that right, so that everybody knows they are totally bullet-proof if they only did something with the best intentions.

"If someone's practising illegally within the medical fraternity or the aviation fraternity or the electrical workers - we want to know and we want to go after that person and we want to deal with them. And this is just in keeping with that."