Senate panel wants total ban on combustible cladding in buildings

Senate panel wants total ban on combustible cladding in buildings
Senate panel wants total ban on combustible cladding in buildings

The Senate committee looking into flammable cladding in buildings in the aftermath of London’s Grenfell Tower tragedy has recommended a ban on the importation, sale and use of the aluminium panels.

However, Coalition members on the Labor-dominated committee, said a ban would not solve the problem though they acknowledged the safety concerns of using aluminium claddings.

Recently, ABC’s Four Corners highlighted the issue, saying thousands of buildings across Australia use flammable cladding, which led to the London tower tragedy that claimed more than 80 lives.

“The committee recommends the Australian government implement a total ban on the importation, sale and use of Polyethylene core aluminium composite panels as a matter of urgency,” said the recommendation in the Senate panel’s report.

“In light of the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy, the committee does not consider there to be any legitimate use of PE core ACPs on any building type. The committee believes that as there are safe non-flammable and fire retardant alternatives available there is no place for PE core ACPs in the Australian market,” it added. 

The report referred to the Lacrosse building fire in Melbourne in 2014 as well.

The panel was chaired by Labor Senator Chris Ketter, was critical of lax regulation.

Another member, Labor's Kim Carr, said "The questions of public safety are really fundamental.”

"We've had too many fires already in this country. We have too many buildings that are using this product,” ABC News reported him as saying.

Earlier, Labor had issued a media release saying the Senate Economic References Committee had recommended that the Turnbull Government, as a matter of urgency:

  • Implements a total ban on the importation, sale and use of polyethylene core aluminium composite panels.
  • Works to implement a national licencing scheme for all building practitioners.
  • Imposes a penalties regime for non-compliance with the National Construction Code, including revoking accreditation, banning from tendering in Commonwealth contracts and financial penalties.
  • Adequately resources the Federal Safety Commissioner ensuring that it is able to carry out its duties with new audit functions and projected work flows.
  • Works to establish a nationally consistent statutory duty of care for end users in the residential strata sector.
  • Brings more representatives of the supply chain into the working of the Building Minister’s Forum.
  • Considers making all Australian Standards and codes freely available to the construction industry. 

However, Coalition senators on the committee issued a dissenting report saying they acknowledged the concerns about the use of combustible cladding in buildings but a ban was not the answer.

They pointed to the wide use of polyethylene core aluminium composite products in the signage industry and said banning an individual product would not solve the problem.

The Coalition senators said consideration should be given to improving the identification of the materials and ensuring they are suitable for use.

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.

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.

Tags: 
Inquiry Safety

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