Nearly every state in Australia has taken steps to investigate non-compliant cladding in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire disaster in London.
The Victorian government has established a taskforce jointly chaired by former Victorian premier Ted Baillieu, who trained and practised as an architect, and former deputy premier and planning minister John Thwaites.
The taskforce will “bolster the state’s ability to detect and address non-compliant cladding, and ensure residents, owners’ corporations and building managers are better informed about the issue,” the state government said in a statement.
An audit of buildings in Victoria was ordered after a fire at the Lacrosse Building in Melbourne’s Docklands in 2014. More than 220 buildings in the state were assessed by the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) in the original audit and subsequent investigations.
While all were deemed safe to occupy, the non-compliance rate found by the original VBA audit was 51 per cent. At the time of the audit report’s release in 2016, the VBA described the non-compliance rate of the use of external cladding materials as “unacceptably high.”
Fire Protection Association of Australia CEO, Scott Williams, said it is obvious from the VBA audit that there is a major problem with compliance and enforcement.
Elsewhere in Australia, the Queensland state government announced in June that it had established an audit taskforce that would conduct a “targeted audit” of buildings constructed in the state “between 1994 and 2004 using aluminium composite cladding.”
The decision to form the taskforce was made after a “possible non-conforming cladding product” was found on the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane.
Meanwhile, the West Australian Building Commission and the South Australian government and NSW government are also undertaking audits.
NSW is considering tougher regulations on the use of combustible cladding after it was revealed that up to 2,500 buildings in the state could be fitted with flammable cladding.
The NSW Master Builders Association said the danger came from imported products that do not meet safety requirements.
The association said tougher fire safety standards are needed to tackle the amount of non-compliant and dangerous building materials that have been "flooding the domestic market.”