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New code affects only new public buildings

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The Premises Standards, passed by the House Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, are intended to make new public buildings more accessible for people with disabilities (mobility, vision and hearing). However, they could have introduced requirements for old venues as well.

“This shows some balance between access and viability has been achieved,” said John Hart, CEO of Restaurant and Catering Australia.

“We have put in submissions over time to ensure there are no additional costs for existing businesses. Our position has always been that government needs to keep the regulation at a point that allows businesses to continue to operate.”

Committee chair, Mark Dreyfus, said: “Although there is still some way to go, the committee supports the Premises Standards as a significant milestone on the path to equal access. The benefits of the Premises Standards would be widespread, immediate and real. The committee also expects the Premises Standards to provide intangible benefits such as dignity, social inclusion and respect.”

It is assumed that once passed, the Premises Standards will present greater certainty to building certifiers, developers and managers to ensure that they are complying with their obligations under the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act.

A key suggestion by the committee for Class 1b Buildings (e.g. bed and breakfast), was for the inclusion of a reference to ‘dignity’ in the objects of the Standards; and, for a thorough review process to be completed within five years of the commencement of the Standards.

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