A Quick Guide To Queensland’s New Plumbing and Drainage Laws
A Quick Guide To Queensland’s New Plumbing and Drainage Laws

By Dean Carter – Hydraulic Designer

The Queensland Government has passed some new laws relating to plumbing and drainage. Queensland’s plumbers and drainers, builders, developers, local governments, water service providers and homeowners can all expect some changes to the way they have previously managed their work.

Wondering how they might impact you and your project, and what you might need to do? Dean Carter from the DMA Engineers Hydraulics team has created this quick guide to help.

In summary, the new laws now in place are:

  • The Queensland Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018, which was passed by the Queensland Parliament on the 11 September 2018.
  • The Queensland Plumbing and Drainage regulation 2019, which was approved by the Governor in Council on the 04 April 2019.

The new laws commenced on 01 July 2019, along with a new QLD Plumbing Wastewater Code.

Why did the existing laws need to be amended?

When the previous plumbing laws were being reviewed, stakeholders stated three clear directions that they wanted to see in the new laws:

  • Permits, inspections and licensee requirements were all seen as positive aspects of the existing laws. Stakeholders agreed that no changes were needed as they did not want to fix anything that wasn’t broken.
  • However, it was perceived that there was too much duplication, with requirements on how to do plumbing and drainage work spread throughout the Act, Regulation and Code. Stakeholders wanted to see this consolidated.
  • The industry was concerned that the penalties for unlicensed plumbing work did not provide adequate deterrents.

What are the benefits of the new laws?

We see the benefits of the new laws being:

  • A faster permit process, saving time and money.
  • Laws that are easier to understand, meaning there will be less potential for misinterpretation of the laws from all relevant parties. Everybody will have a clearer understanding of what is required.
  • A stronger penalties framework, such as increased penalties for unlicensed work. This is aimed at deterring non-licensed people from performing works outside of their qualifications and expertise. In turn, this will protect the plumbing industry, but most importantly, the health and safety of all Queenslanders.

What are the main changes?

  • Permit application timeframes have been reduced.
    • Fast track permit applications are now available for non-complex, low risk developments. Local government assessment time frames reduced from 20 business days to two business days.
    • Standard Permit Applications are to be used for all applications that are not part of the fast track stream. Local government assessment time frames have reduced from 20 business days to 10 business days.
  • Terminology changes to reduce confusion and the risk of misinterpretation.


  • Permits will remain in force for two years unless a longer period is stated in the permit. Previously there was no end to a permits’ life.
  • A person must not use plumbing or drainage unless an inspection certificate or final inspection certificate has been issued stating that the work is operational and fit for use. An inspection certificate can be obtained in situations where parts of a project are complete and ready to be used, but the full site works are incomplete. The inspection certificate will be beneficial for works where the project is to be staged. Previously, multiple permits and approvals would have been required.
  • Increased penalties for unlicensed work.
  • Updates to the documents that are required to accompany permit applications. A copy of the soil classification report must be supplied where the work involves sanitary drainage. For soil classifications, H, E and P, a copy of the articulation design must be supplied.
  • The Queensland Plumbing and Wastewater Code (QPWC)has been amended to remove all redundant requirements, for example, where a requirement was also addressed in the Plumbing Code of Australia or a relevant Australian Standard.


Other resources

Further information and factsheets about the changes can be found at:


QBCC is also holding live webinars to discuss the new plumbing laws. Two sessions are remaining:

  • Thursday 25 July 2019 at 5pm-6pm
  • Wednesday 31 July 2019 at 4:30pm-5:30pm

If you’re interested in listening in, you can register at the following link –



Need further advice?

If you’d like to discuss the changes in further detail or would like some advice on how they apply to you and your project/s, get in touch with our hydraulics team by contacting Dean Carter on dean.carter@dmaengineers.com.au or (07) 3839 3050.

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