Posted on 07. Mar, 2011 in News

The Baillieu Government is secretly planning to water down national building regulations, limiting the access of the elderly and those with a disability, Shadow Minister for Planning Brian Tee said today.

Mr Tee said Planning Minister Matthew Guy was turning his back on nationally-agreed standards for disabled access to public and commercial buildings.

“Mr Guy has let down people living with a disability by watering down new national disability standards,” Mr Tee said.

“The Building Amendment Bill 2011 provides new access standards, ensuring that public and commercial buildings have doors, corridors, lifts and toilets that allow access for people with a disability.

“These standards have been agreed to by every state and territory and follow an extensive period of consultation.

“The Baillieu Government has provided an escape route allowing building owners and others to modify or get a complete exemption from the standards.

“Applications for modifications or exemptions can be made to the Victorian Building Appeals Board who have to consider the rights and interests of all relevant parties.”

Mr Tee said the cynical decision undermines the strict regulations set out in the national Disability Discrimination Act.

“I am very concerned that this lesser test will mean that major builders will be lining up to avoid the standards imposed in the legislation. By providing this mechanism the standards can be avoided,” he said.

“Those living with a disability will literally be left out of buildings like hotels, leisure centres and other public and commercial buildings.

“And so-called national standards to ensure that builders operate under the same rules across the country will be applied differently in Victoria.

“This will do nothing to reduce the regulatory burden for national builders.

“The Opposition will move to amend the legislation to ensure that all Victorians have access to buildings, facilities and services no matter where they live.”

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