Companies who use banned building products in NSW, including dangerous cladding, could be hit with fines of more than a million dollars under new laws. The proposed legislation also includes fines of up to $220,000 for individuals who breach bans.
The Building Products (Safety) Bill 2017 would compel builders, building product suppliers, manufacturers and importers to produce their records to the Commissioner of Fair Trading, so dangerous products could be identified. The new laws also give local councils greater powers to rectify to problems found in buildings.
The move comes after combustible cladding was blamed for the fire that engulfed London’s Grenfell Tower in June, killing 80 people. In Australia, it’s estimated up to 10,000 skyscrapers contain the highly flammable combustible cladding, and that just one square metre of the material would contain the equivalent of five litres of petrol. In September, Senator Kim Carr said it was more “good luck than good management that no one has been burned to death.”
Minister for Better Regulation, Matt Kean, said the Grenfell Tower tragedy was a horrific reminder of the need to do everything possible to keep NSW residents living in high-rise buildings safe. “These new laws will make it easier for us to inspect and to pinpoint exactly where unsafe cladding is on high-rise residential buildings across this state.”
Mr. Kean said Fire and Rescue NSW had inspected around half of the 1000 buildings identified in a state government audit in July as potentially containing highly flammable cladding. Of those, it is believed “fewer than 100” contain non-compliant cladding, and further work is currently underway to determine whether those buildings are safe.
Greens MP David Shoebridge said despite that, not one NSW property has had its cladding removed since the Grenfell Tower disaster. “Five months on and the minister and this government can’t point to a single property that’s been made safer.”