States back cladding ban
Flammable cladding has been banned in buildings nationwide, but Australia may never be free of the risky material.
A meeting of building ministers from across the country has led all states and territories to agree on a nationwide construction ban on combustible cladding.
Federal minister Karen Andrews says the pact will be formalised, “subject to proper investigation and some discussions with industry”.
“Victoria and NSW have already moved to ban the use of cladding on new construction over certain [heights],” she told reporters.
“The states can now work on how they're going to further implement changes in their own jurisdictions.
“Each state or territory can proceed immediately to implement bans in full but I'm going to encourage them to bring industry with them.”
Authorities were sent scrambling for a response after a Melbourne CBD apartment tower covered in flammable cladding caught fire last week.
Ms Andrews said it has become an urgent matter.
“We recognise there is a timeliness issue here and that we need to move forward at a very fast pace,” she said.
“It is an issue of concern to residents in apartment blocks and of course workers.”
No new solutions have been suggested, but the matter will be discussed again in July.
Meanwhile in NSW, the State Government has announced reforms including the creation of a new high-rise tower watchdog and a registration scheme for engineers and builders.
The overhaul of construction activity is based on 24 recommendations from the Shergold Weir report, which outlined “significant and concerning” problems in the industry.
The changes should see every party to the construction process, from drafting to building, registered and qualified.
The new Building Commissioner will enforce new laws and for licensing and auditing practitioners.
It will also be in charge of approving changes to plans after the design stage is complete.
Better Regulation Minister Matt Kean said property buyers have the right to expect it is safe.
“Unfortunately that is not always the case,” he told reporters on Sunday.
Master Builders Australia said unprecedented levels of construction in NSW for the past few years have created some issues.
“This is one of the most important reforms the industry has seen for a very long time,” executive director Brian Seidler told reporters.