Grenfell-style flammable cladding should be banned, Senate committee says
A Senate committee has recommended Australia ban the importation, sale and use of the type of cladding that led to London’s Grenfell tower tragedy.
- “We have too many buildings that are using this product,” Labor senator says
- Coalition senators say banning individual product won’t solve problem
- PM has asked states and territories to audit buildings for combustible cladding
The Coalition members of the committee, however, do not support the recommendation.
Labor’s Kim Carr is among the majority of senators taking part in this inquiry who want polyethylene aluminium cladding banned in Australia.
“The questions of public safety are really fundamental,” he said.
“We cannot have people burnt to death and have no-one be accountable. And that’s what’s happened in the UK.
“We’ve had too many fires already in this country. We have too many buildings that are using this product.”
The Coalition senators on the committee issued a dissenting report in which they acknowledged there were genuine concerns about the use of combustible cladding in buildings.
But they did not support the banning of the cladding in Australia.
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.
Instead, the Coalition senators said consideration should be given to improving the identification of the materials and ensuring they are suitable for use.
Senator Carr slammed the Coalition senators’ position.
“The Government’s minority report is, what, a page-and-a-half long? It’s a further example of a Government seeking more procrastination,” he said.
“This is a Government that doesn’t know what it’s doing. It doesn’t understand the urgency of these issues.”
Nationwide building audit requested
Liberal MP Craig Laundy is the chairman of the Building Ministers’ Forum.
In a statement, he told AM he’s been working closely with the states and territories over the past year on non-conforming and non-compliant building products.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has asked all of them to audit their buildings for combustible cladding.
Mr Laundy said the forum had commissioned an independent expert review of compliance and enforcement regimes and is expecting the introduction of a new standard which would be based on facade fire testing.
The Fire Protection Association of Australia is the peak body for designers, product manufacturers, installers and others involved in fire-proofing buildings.
Its deputy CEO Matthew Wright said an outright ban on the cladding shouldn’t be necessary.
“The current code prohibits the use of such material in areas where it will be a hazard,” he said.
“So we would like to see more action taken regarding increasing the education and the competency of individuals applying the code itself rather than banning a single product that the code already limits,” he said.
Mr Wright also believes a constitutional issue may arise if a national ban on cladding products was to be introduced.
“In that the states and territories are responsible for enforcement and application of building code requirements,” he said.
“We’d like more action in increasing the deterrence and taking action where co-compliance hasn’t been achieved.”
Watch Four Corners’ report on flammable cladding on ABC iview.