Public safety, fire protection, and the National Construction Code

Neil Savery finished his nine-year stint as the CEO/General Manager of the Australian Building Codes Board in January, 2022, leading a significant reform agenda addressing building regulation in this country.

He came to that role following 11 years of planning executive roles in South Australia, the ACT, and Victoria, during which time he was an ABCB Board member.

In his time there, he worked hard to reconcile the views of government and industry and ensure that the National Construction Code could be world-class regulation.

In this presentation, Neil will be providing his perspective from 20 years in and around the ABCB, his views about how public safety and fire protection are covered by the Code, and what more work might be needed to protect buildings and their occupants from the risk of fire.


Neil Savery

Former CEO, Australian Building Codes Board

Currently working as a consultant to the American International Codes Council, Neil Savery was previously the Chief Executive of the Australian Building Codes Board for nine years, having been a Board member for eleven.  In that role Neil championed a roadmap for an ambitious and forward-thinking regulatory reform agenda that put users/consumers of the National Construction Code at the centre of the operation.

These reforms included a number of transformational initiatives, such as increased and competent use of performance, quantification of the Performance Requirements, digitisation of the National Construction Code, improving the Code’s readability and useability, the establishment of an ABCB education capability and facilitating improved national administrative practice through the work on implementing the recommendations of the Building Confidence Report.  Combined, these initiatives can lift national productivity, improve building outcomes and protect consumers.

Neil has also been responsible for the carriage of significant policy reform to the National Construction Code, including energy efficiency, liveable housing, lead in plumbing products and work to determine if the Codes provisions are fit for purpose for buildings to be resilient to future climate. He is Chair of the Interjurisdictional Regulatory Collaboration Committee, a Board member of the International Building Quality Centre and helped establish the CANZUS Global Resiliency Dialogue.

As part of the Council of Australian Government processes for twenty years, Neil has been involved in advising Ministers on significant building and planning policy reform, including his time as Chair of the Senior Planning Officials Group.

Neil was Deputy Commissioner of the Victorian Building and Plumbing Industry Commissions, where in addition to administering the building/plumbing control systems for the State, he contributed to the process of change arising out of the very controversial Victorian Auditor General’s 2011 report, including the creation of the Victorian Building Authority.

For eight years Neil served as the inaugural Chief Planning Executive for the ACT Planning & Land Authority, a multi-purpose statutory authority for a range of planning, land administration and building practitioner services, and where he designed and implemented what at the time were the most comprehensive planning reforms in the country.

Neil was the Executive Director of Planning SA, where he developed significant reforms to land use planning, including Australia’s first urban containment boundary for a capital city.  Before that he was the Director of City Planning and Special Projects at the City of Greater Geelong, where he managed the redevelopment of that city’s waterfront and CBD.

He is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Canberra and holds qualifications in town planning, urban design and ecologically sustainable development, is a Registered Planner and a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Neil was also national President of the Planning Institute of Australia, of which he is a fellow, and a former fellow of the Australian Property Institute.