Plumbing Supply Forum
There are often calls to totally de-regulate certain industries, in order to, as the rhetoric goes, reduce costs and red tape and let industry take its course. The downside of this approach is that it can lead to a new low base in terms of quality and a market free-for-all.
So, has the Australian plumbing industry reached that point?
Plumbing Connection has banged on for more than 20 years about crook product, unsubstantiated performance claims, false compliance marks/documents, shabby quality and straight out deception.
Successive Governments at both State and Federal levels have, over the years, introduced more regulations and mechanisms in the belief that they protect the consumer/end user and make it easier for the trade to specify/install product that complies with Australian Standards, Water Efficiency Schemes, WaterMark and other requirements. Today, however, there is more evidence than ever to suggest that the crooks are winning over those doing the right thing.
Just ask the technical expert witnesses who are being pulled into a growing number of legal cases where plumbing product specification/installation has gone wrong.
Unfortunately the insurance industry takes no real interest in solving such ‘in-industry issues’; their mechanism of response is to litigate the liability trail until someone buckles. They also have the capability to continuously raise premiums to cover a faltering sector.
All of this regulation is fine but if it is not effectively managed and policed, what have we achieved?
To make matters worse, there is evidence to suggest that even on Government construction projects, non-approved product gets the nod (and a wink) and no-one is the wiser, until things start to turn sour and those involved in the original decision-making trail quickly disappear from sight of the plaintiffs.
Today, builders, developers and plumbing contractors are directly importing containers of high-value product for projects, which don’t carry the respective compliance marks or meet the Standards. It’s a risk they run with.
The increase in online shopping is also having an effect. Consumers think they are getting a bargain when buying high-end bathroom fixtures offshore, only to be confronted by various problems like connections not matching or the product not being made of DZ brass. The big-name manufacturers quite rightly are refusing to support an off-shore warranty. That’s a hard one for the average plumber to explain to their client, who was sure they had outsmarted the system and picked up a bargain. Unfortunately for the plumber who installs such product without checking its markings or knowing its authenticity and gaining a disclaimer from the client, they become liable.
While all of this is not news to the plumbing industry, it was encouraging to see a report released late last year by the Australian Industry Group (Ai), which represents the interests of 60,000 businesses across Australia. It confirmed that 92% of companies dealing in the building and construction sector reported non-conforming product in their supply chains.
Ai is a powerful force that represents 60,000 Australian manufacturers and has the ear of Government. It will be interesting to see if their initiatives can shake-up the situation for the good of the building sector at large.
It is also important to remind ourselves of why this industry is regulated. Potable water supply and the effective disposal of waste/sewage are two vital health issues valued by modern day society. They need to be protected at all costs. Remember the public panic caused by Sydney’s’ cryptosporidium and giardia outbreak 15 years ago and who can forget the SARS epidemic!
Unfortunately there are fewer people across the plumbing industry today who have a comprehensive understanding of the inter-connectivity between all of these regulatory requirements.
Over the past decade, water-saving requirements have been introduced at a time when there have also been significant updates to Standards, and the WaterMark process has changed ‘ownership’ of its management and new technologies prosper.
Taking the above into account, that sets a backdrop to the program we have developed for the 2014 Plumbing Supply Forum (PSF). It has been designed around briefing the industry (whoever you are) of the status of these regulatory programs in detail.
We’re bringing together the senior legislators and program managers to provide you an up-to-date understanding and the opportunity to ask the pertinent questions.
The PSF is this industry’s marquee event, held every two years by Plumbing Connection magazine and this year we are pleased to present it in conjunction with the Plumbing Products Industry Group (PPIG).
This program will be of interest to virtually anyone involved across the plumbing sector: manufacturers, importers, merchants, consultants, compliance/service suppliers, contractors, educators and regulators.
The primary aim of the PSF is to assist businesses (including yours) to operate more effectively and profitably.
The full program is below and any updates will be made on the event site at www.plumbingsupplyforum.com.au.
Seats are strictly limited, so complete your registration now and secure your place.
We take this opportunity to thank our industry sponsors, Reliance Worldwide and IAPMO, who understand the benefits of bringing greater collaboration to the sector.
REGISTER HERE: www.plumbingsupplyforum.com.au
Check out the agenda below