Construction watchdog chief resigns after iPhone inspection revelations

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Victorian Building Authority chief executive Sue Eddy has resigned from the state’s embattled construction watchdog, effective immediately.

Eddy, who was reappointed for another five years in 2022, told VBA staff last Friday that she would be taking personal leave due to a family matter. However, staff will be told on Thursday morning that she will not return.

The chief executive of the Victorian Building Authority, Sue Eddy, has resigned.

Eddy gave no reason for her resignation, said a source with direct knowledge of the situation who was not authorised to speak publicly before the announcement. No decision has been made about her replacement.

A government source confirmed the resignation when contacted by The Age.

The Age also attempted to contact Eddy, but she did not respond. VBA deputy chief commissioner Justin Madden was also contacted and said he was not in a position to comment.

The Age and 60 Minutes revealed on Sunday that VBA inspectors completed hundreds of virtual audits rather than physically attending construction sites, despite legal advice that these “inspections by iPhone” might breach the state’s Building Act.

The building authority has been under the spotlight in the past year for its failures. WorkSafe last year issued an order for it to provide a safe workplace for its 43 building and plumbing inspectors after the suicide of inspector Rob Karkut.

The WorkSafe report following Karkut’s death found the VBA was an unsafe workplace due to managers pressing inspectors to tick off construction sites to meet ambitious targets set by the Andrews government in 2020.

Building surveyors claim the watchdog ignored their warnings about virtual home building inspections for two years and called for the VBA leadership to be overhauled on Tuesday.

Victorian Planning Minister Sonya Kilkenny told The Age on Sunday that Victorians expected their homes “be built to approved building standards and built to last – and that the regulator is functioning appropriately and effectively”.

“I have been considering the Victorian Building Authority’s performance of its important regulatory functions and have sought advice from my department regarding the governance and management of the Victorian Building Authority. I will have more to say once I have received and considered that advice,” Kilkenny has said.

With Clay Lucas and Jewel Topsfield

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