Architectural Blatherations

The New South Wales Architects Act 2003: a Welcome Reform

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The Good Oil

As in many federal nations, such as the United States or Switzerland, Australian architects are regulated on a state, not a national, basis. In Dr Garry's home state of New South Wales (NSW), Australia, architects enjoy title protection rather than practice protection. That is, almost anyone can do the work of an architect, but the title 'architect' is regulated by legislation. The United Kingdom has a similar system. The jurisdictions in the United States protect both title and practice.

In 2003 the government of Dr Garry's home state had a magnificent rush of blood to the head and passed a model Act regulating architects, replacing the sad old mishmash of a law dating back to 1921.

How did that happen?

The stimulus was the Australian Productivity Commission's investigation into the Australian architecture profession. Amongst many other findings, they gave a great whack to the various state architectural registration Boards and regulatory Acts:

To its tremendous credit, the state government responded to these criticisms a few years down the track with a new act, the Architects Act 2003 (or try the official legislation), which came into force in June 2004. From our readings of the parliamentary proceedings in Hansard, the Act had minimal input from the usual cabal of nitwits at the Royal Australian Institute of Architects (RAIA). Free from the RAIA's usual ham-fisted half-witted sanctimoniously self-serving suggestions, the government managed to craft what we think is a fine piece of legislation.

What the Act does

The Act retains the fundamental principle of title, not practice, regulation. It allows non-architects (building designers) to work in the field. It enshrines a conduct of conduct and provides consumer redress.

It establishes a reformed board, the NSW Architects Registration Board (with a very wanky bandwidth-intensive and self-congratulatory homepage. We'd advise broadband). It also enshrines in regulation a code of professional conduct.

For the first time, it creates a substantial consumer protection against incompetent architects. We think these are the great virtues of the Act: