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Expert panel appointed to review Victoria's Building System

Expert panel appointed to review Victoria's Building System
Expert panel appointed to review Victoria's Building System

The Victorian Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne, has announced a 6-member panel will be convened to lead a comprehensive review into Victoria's building system.

Among the appointees is Dame Judith Hackitt who led the UK Government's review of high-rise regulation after the 2017 Grenfell Tower inferno in London.

The panel will be chaired by Victoria's Better Regulation and Red Tape Commission Anna Cronin who has more than 25 year's experience in policy development.

Members of the panel are:

  • Anna Cronin - Chair and Commission for Better Regulation and Red Tape Commissioner
  • Dame Judith Hackitt - Chair of the UK Independent Review of building regulations and Fire Safety and form Chair of the UK Health and Safety Executive
  • Lauren Solomon - CEO of Consumer Policy Research Centre
  • Melanie Fasham - Past President of the Master Buildings Association of Victoria and member of the Building Regulations Advisory Committee
  • Dr Gerry Ayers - Health and Safety Manager of the CFMEU
  • Professor Ian Bailey AM SC - Founding Chair of the Society of Construction Law Australia and progressional fellow at Melbourne Law School.

The panel's first take will be to establish overarching principles to guide the building system review and identify key themes to be investigated and addressed throughout the reform process.  The review will also address recommendations from the Victoria Cladding Taskforce's July 2019 Report.

"We've appointed experts from Victoria and around the world to help us deliver a better building system.  Our building and construction sector underpins much of our growth and economic activity - so it makes sense to support this with a modern and effective legislative framework", Richard Wynne said. 

The Victorian Cladding Taskforce was set up in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy and 3 years after the Lacross Fire in Docklands. 

The Grenfell Tower disaster claimed the lives of 72 people and was started due to a malfunctioning refrigerator-freezer and the fire was primarily attributed to the building's cladding. The Lacrosse fire, while not recording any casualties, was started by a non-extinguished cigarette disposed of in a plastic container - the resulting fire spread across the facade of the building.

Several audits on building facades have been carried out (and some are still ongoing) and some of the recommendations in the Victorian Cladding Taskforce's report, delivered in October 2018 and published in July 2019, included:

  • The Victorian Building Authority and City of Melbourne complete comprehensive audits of priority buildings by the end of 2019.
  • Risk assessment tools be developed for domestic buildings and be made available for use in commercial and industrial buildings.
  • The implementation of a power for the Minister for Planning to declare a prohibition on the use of high-risk cladding products.

In June 2019, the Minister for Planning and Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, announced a $600 million package to fix buildings with combustible cladding in the form of grants to fund rectification works.

A new agency called Cladding Safety Victoria will manage funding and the state government will directly fund half of the rectification works and on January 1, an increased levy applying to planning applications with building work worth more than $800,000, will aid in financing the other half of the fund.

Lead image: Victorian Minister for Planning Richard Wynne, Credit: ABC.

Alastair Taylor

Alastair Taylor

Alastair Taylor is a co-founder of Urban.com.au. Now a freelance writer, Alastair focuses on the intersection of public transport, public policy and related impacts on medium and high-density development.

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