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Welcome to Newsflush Issue #2

Welcome to the second issue of Newsflush. You're receiving this e-newsletter as you're either a plumber signed up to Foundations, or because you subscribed via email. If you have any industry friends or colleagues, encourage them to sign-up too, by filling in the subscription form on the NSW Fair Trading website. 

Please continue to email us with any feedback, comments or topics you think we should be covering.

Exemptions for plumbing and drainage work
in NSW on Crown land

Water drop

NSW Fair Trading is often asked about exemptions for plumbing and drainage work carried out on Crown land (land that is owned and managed by the State Government). 

There is no exemption provided under the NSW Plumbing and Drainage Act and/or Regulations. 

If a Responsible Person (a licensed plumber or drainer) is contracted to undertake work on Crown land, there may be an exemption in seeking approval to undertake specific activities as per the Local Government Act 1993 , but it does not exclude the Responsible Person from meeting the provisions of the Plumbing and Drainage Act requiring the submission of documents or booking mandatory inspections.

All plumbing and drainage work must be done by a licensed plumber as defined by section 4 of the Act.

Section 68 of the Local Government Act is specific to activities that require approval of the local council, and section 69 expands on the exemptions for the Crown. This relates to approvals and not to inspections. The Crown is not exempt from inspections under the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2011.


Industry technical and advisory notes

Inspection clipboard

NSW Fair Trading’s technical advisory notes provide information on technical solutions, installation requirements and interpretations of the Plumbing Code of Australia, as well as relevant industry standards. The advisory notes can be printed and downloaded from the Fair Trading website.

If you're a plumber or drainer based outside the Sydney, Illawarra, Blue Mountains or Newcastle areas, please contact your local council or network utility operator for technical advice. You can also email Fair Trading with any enquiries.


Use of acceptable materials 

Inspections checklist

There has been reported uncertainty within the industry as to whether crusher dust (or cracker dust) or recycled glass sand can be used as a bedding material when laying drainage.

Any material that meets the criteria of the Australian Standard AS/NZS3500.2:2015 Section 5.4 Bedding of Drains, can be used as bedding.  See the extract below for more:

5.4.2 Bedding materials 

Filling materials used for bedding of drains shall be one of the following:

    1. Crushed rock, gravel screenings or similar recycled materials of nominal size of 7–10 mm.
    2. Cement mortar containing 1 part of Portland cement to 4 parts of sand by volume, thoroughly mixed with clean water to a workable consistency.
    3. Cement mortar bedding where the base of the trench is rock or shale. Where the grade is greater than 20% (1 in 5), the cement mortar shall be—
      1. of a minimum depth of 50 mm, measured below the barrel of the pipe;
      2. not less than 75 mm wide;
      3. not closer than 20 mm to flexible joints; and
      4. have pipes supported at not greater than 1500 mm from the centres, prior to placing the mortar bedding.
    4. Free-running sand capable of passing through a 2 mm mesh sieve, which does not contain clay, organic or any other deleterious materials.


    1. Cast iron and ductile iron pipes may be unsupported for up to 600 mm either side of each pipe joint.
    2. For installation of PVC-U pipe systems see AS/NZS 2032. For installation of polyethylene pipe systems, see AS/NZS 2033.

The concern with crusher dust as a bedding material is its consistency in meeting the criteria of either section 5.4.2 (a) or (d) above. Therefore, Fair Trading do not see it as a viable option to replace or be blended with sand; where recycled glass sand can be supplied at a consistent grade from the manufacturer that meets the specifications of 5.4.2 (d), and would be deemed appropriate as a bedding material.

When considering the bedding material, it is also important to ensure compliance with sections 5.4.3 Pipe side support and overlay materials, and 5.4.4 Bedding and backfill. See the extract below: 

5.4.3 Pipe side support and overlay materials
Pipe side support and pipe overlay material shall not be inferior to the pipe bedding material.

5.4.4 Bedding and backfill
The sanitary drainage services shall be surrounded with not less than 75 mm of compacted sand, or fine-grained soil, with no hard-edged object to come in contact with or rest against any pipe or fitting.

NOTE: Backfill shall be free from builder’s waste, bricks, concrete pieces, rocks or hard matter larger than 25 mm and no soil lumps larger than 75 mm.


Update on Fair Trading Plumbing Health Checks

Blocked pipe

As part of a NSW Fair Trading yearly program, Plumbing Health Checks were recently carried out in Indigenous communities in the Wentworth district.

Site inspections were conducted on properties in the towns of Wentworth, Dareton, Coomealla, Buronga, Gol Gol, Euston and Namatjira.

NSW Fair Trading visited 125 properties conducting free inspections and, in some cases, undertaking immediate plumbing repairs at the time of the site visit.

Around half of the properties were identified as requiring major plumbing work and this will be undertaken in the future by licensed tradespeople managed by Aboriginal housing providers.

The Plumbing Health Check team consisted of licensed plumbers from Fair Trading, licensed plumbers and apprentices from the Master Plumbers Association (MPA), as well as the Fair Trading Aboriginal programs team and PIAS administration staff. Fair Trading would like to thank the Master Plumbers and their suppliers for their support.

Since the successful program began in 2014, we have provided free Plumbing Health Checks and repairs to properties in Walgett, Lightning Ridge, Bourke, Alice Edwards Village, as well as Wentworth, Dareton, Coomealla, Buronga, Gol Gol, Euston and Namatjira.

NSW Fair Trading is currently looking at remote regional Aboriginal communities that could benefit from this program.

Plumbing Health Checks team in a warehouse
Above: Members of the Plumbing Health Check team.


Common questions asked by apprentices


NSW Fair Trading is asked a wide range of questions from apprentices and people who have just completed their trade certificate. As part of a new FAQ series, here is the first question:

I have completed and passed my plumbing trade course; can I contract directly to my employer or other plumbing contractors?

No, only plumbers and drainers with a contractor’s licence can contract to do any plumbing and drainage work.

There is an assumption in the industry that it is OK for a tradesperson to subcontract directly to their employer. This is an offence under the Home Building Act 1989 and a penalty infringement notice can be issued  under Part 2 Division 2 section 12 (c). Visit the NSW legislation website for further detail. 

The Plumbing and Drainage Act 2011 states: 

6   Plumbing and drainage work to be carried out only by authorised persons

    1. A person must not do any kind of plumbing and drainage work unless the person:
      1. holds an endorsed contractor licence or a supervisor certificate in force under the Home Building Act 1989 authorising the holder to do that kind of work, or
      2. does the work under the immediate supervision of the holder of such a licence or certificate, or
      3. holds a tradesperson certificate in force under the Home Building Act 1989 authorising the holder to do that work under supervision and does that work under the general supervision of the holder of a licence or certificate referred to in paragraph (a).

Maximum penalty: 100 penalty units.