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New South Wales Building Commissioner David Chandler breaks silence after resigning

A NSW construction watchdog who quit unexpectedly this week has been cleared of allegations he misled Parliament as rumors swirl about his reason for leaving.

Building Commissioner David Chandler broke his silence on Wednesday night after media speculated as to why he had decided to quit.

But a joint statement from Mr Chandler and his boss, customer service secretary Emma Hogan, did not answer that question.

“I think now is the time for a reset and I am firmly committed to working with the secretary, the team and the industry until the end of my term,” Mr Chandler said.

“I don’t want my resignation to distract people from what has been accomplished so far and the work that remains to be done.”

Mr Chandler was under internal investigation after evidence he gave Parliament about his work appeared to have been contradicted by a leaked video.

Ms Hogan, who led the investigation herself, said Mr Chandler had been cleared and his departure was voluntary.

‘I would like to thank Mr Chandler for his customer advocacy and leadership of NSW building reform initiatives over the past three years,’ she said.

The video that sparked the investigation showed Mr Chandler saying he had given banks a list of certifiers he thought must be ‘unemployable’.

These comments appeared to contradict testimony he had given in Parliament that recommending certifiers was “not what the regulator does”.

The investigation was just one of the possible reasons cited by MPs and industry figures speculating as to why Mr Chandler decided to leave.

Just three months ago, he indicated he was looking forward to continuing to work, saying developers who had hoped to pop champagne in his retirement would have to wait to open their bottles.

“I was really set on going fishing on September 30 … (but) I thought it wouldn’t be fun to give them a reason to put the champagne back in the cupboard,” he said in April.

There was speculation in the media that Mr. Chandler had resigned because the internal investigation had soured his relationship with the government.

But a customer service spokeswoman denied those rumours.

“Reports of adversarial relationships with department staff are also false,” she said.

Opposition MPs want to know why Mr Chandler quit and have invited him to testify during the budget estimates in September.

The department could also be ordered to hand over the resignation documents after MPs return to parliament next month.

Labor spokeswoman for better regulation, Courtney Houssos, said the government should make the findings of the internal inquiry public.

“If the investigation is complete, I would ask the minister to make it public,” she said.

“We still don’t have more answers as to why the building commissioner resigned. If he leaves, we need to know who will spearhead the government’s response to the construction industry.

“This is a dramatic and unplanned departure and we still have no explanation as to why.”

Fair Trade Minister Eleni Petinos, who ordered the investigation into Mr Chandler, did not respond to questions about the reasons for his resignation.

She instead responded by thanking him for his nearly three years in the role.

“I thank him for his work and wish him good luck in his future endeavours,” Ms Petinos said.

The building commissioner’s job is to protect homeowners from shoddy developers. The commissioner has the power to investigate and take disciplinary action against builders who misbehave.

Mr. Chandler will continue in this role until November 30. Ms Hogan said she hoped to find a replacement before then.

The Office of the Building Commissioner was established in 2019, following the Opal Tower and Mascot Towers scandals, where brand new apartment buildings were found to be cracked.