Strata body calls for federal action to fix cladding issue in Four Corners aftermath

Strata body calls for federal action to fix cladding issue in Four Corners aftermath
Strata body calls for federal action to fix cladding issue in Four Corners aftermath

ABC’s latest Four Corners program that examined the widespread use of flammable aluminium cladding on potentially thousands of Australian buildings has evoked strong responses from the strata management community.

The devastating Grenfell Tower fire in London, which claimed about 80 lives, brought into focus the flammable aluminium cladding used in buildings for decades in Australia. 

The show, titled Combustible, was reported by Debbie Whitmont and presented by Sarah Ferguson.

The Four Corners investigation revealed that some international manufacturers and their Australian suppliers knew the risks of using PE cladding on high-rise buildings, but put cutting costs over safety and continued importing the flammable material because of ambiguous regulation.

A preliminary audit in NSW has identified 1,011 buildings that require investigation. The number across Australia would go into thousands.

Leading strata management body, Strata Community Australia, says tens of thousands of apartment owners Australia wide are unfairly facing the prospect of a multi-million dollar bill to fix buildings impacted by flammable cladding.

“Our fear is that tens of thousands of apartment owners around the country, could be left to face this serious safety threat alone, and we want to see Federal Government intervention ASAP,”  said a SCA spokesperson.

And it’s not just residential buildings, even hospitals, shopping centres and commercial buildings, have been built with flammable aluminium cladding.

“Last week the Federal Government announced that it will not consider tougher screening measures at the border to stop unsafe building materials, and lieu of this decision, we want to hear from the Prime Minister on what action his government will be considering,” said the SCA media release.

SCA is the top industry body for Body Corporate and Community Title Management in Australia & New Zealand that manages a combined property portfolio of more than $1.2 trillion.

Meanwhile, developers’ body, Master Builders, has sought to reach out to address the problem and said people must have faith in their work. 

“Master Builders and its 33,000 members want the community to have faith in the safety of our built environment,” Denita Wawn, CEO of Master Builders Australia said in a media response.

“It’s completely understandable that fires at the Grenfell Tower in the UK and the Lacrosse building in Victoria have highlighted the importance of a regulatory system that has the confidence of both the community and the building industry,” she said.

“As Master Builders has consistently said, the challenge is to make more effective the extensive and robust regulatory regime that ensures the safe use of building products,” Denita Wawn said.

She said that this was mainly the responsibility of government, but requires the combined effort from all those in the building and construction supply chain.

“A National Taskforce established by Master Builders and comprised of experts from across Australia is progressing policy reforms that support quality and safety of our homes, workplaces, hospitals and other public buildings,” Denita Wawn said.

“Master Builders has been calling for a range of reforms that applies to the whole building supply chain. This includes the need for a centrally administered building product certification system with clear, accessible information and improved rigor and enforcement of the current regulations,” she said.

“Ensuring that everyone in the construction chain – manufacturers, designers, importers, wholesalers, regulators and builders - has access to clear, consistent and readily available (and reliable) information about building products will assist to reduce the incidence of them being used in a non-compliant way.”

She cited government efforts so far that include draft amendments to the National Construction Code around fire safety and the online information hub established by the Australian Building Codes Board.

Safety Strata Communities

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