Thousands of Victorian buildings have flammable cladding

By Leith van Onselen

The fallout from Monday’s fire at the 41-storey Neo200 building on Melbourne’s Spencer Street continues, with Victoria’s Planning Minister, Richard Wynne, reportedly seeking a nationwide ban on combustible cladding, which is present in “thousands of Victorian buildings”. Wynne says the federal government has a major role to play in ensuring that building products are compliant and safe.

Meanwhile, it has been revealed that the 41-storey Neo200 building was deemed as a “moderate risk” in an audit ordered by the Victorian Cladding Taskforce, and yet the fire on Monday spread rapidly from the 22nd to the 27th floor. From The ABC:

Firefighters said the fire was caused by a discarded cigarette on an apartment balcony, which then was fuelled by the cladding.

Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne said the Neo200 apartments were assessed by the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) as part of a statewide audit investigating combustible cladding.

“It was indicated that because the building was not fully clad, it was of moderate risk,” he said.

Fifteen fire trucks, two ladder-platform trucks and 60 firefighters were required to extinguish the fire.

Obvious question: if the Neo200 building was deemed to be “moderate risk”, and yet managed to catch fire from a discarded cigarette, what does this say about those buildings deemed “higher risk”?

Not to worry, these buildings are being “case managed” by the Victorian Government:

“There are in the order of about 60 buildings that are of higher risk and we are case-managing all of those individually through the building regulator the VBA.”

The use of flammable cladding is also reportedly widespread:

“You have to look really right across [the state]. They’re in regional cities, they’re in the CBD, they’re in the suburbs as well,” [Richard Wynne] said.

“This non-conforming cladding product has been used very extensively for more than 20 years in the building industry.”

What a mess. This what you get when:

  1. policy makers force-feed hundreds of thousands of migrants into our major cities each year, necessitating the rapid construction of shoddy quality high-rise; and
  2. neoliberals spend years slashing “red tape”, as if it is some sort impediment to business rather than necessary rules and regulations meant to stop shoddy building practices, the use of dangerous building materials, and the use of apartments as over crowded slums.

The Lacrosse and Neo200 fires are a warning that a disaster, like the Grenfell Tower in London, is only a matter of time. The sad reality is that anybody living in one of these high-rise slums is playing Russian Roulette with their lives.

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  1. Last in the world for broadband, second last for carbon emmissins, near last for energy prices. The joint has gone completely impotent and stupid. It’s a large risk for peoples lives. Fix it. As a taxpayer I’m happy to pay half the cost seems fair?

    • Oh mate, you’ll be paying half the cost *anyway* as a taxpayer.

      That’s how deductions for repairs and maintenance work for them negatively feared infestor owners. So 50% is the best case scenario.

      The question is who will pay the other 50%. I suspect that’ll be you as well.

      • Peachy – dumb question possibly. Would the replacement of cladding attract negative gearing (capital v expense thingy).

    • So who is / has paying for these two burnt out buildings? insurance surely won’t pay if the product is sub standard and has been approved through fraud.

      I am interested in the immediate development of this case, if anyone has info to share…

      • Insurance will probably be trying to claw it back from the builders. Good luck with that though given the company probably no longer exists.

    • I respectfully disagree. The buyers of these apartments should bear the full cost (unless they can persuade their elected reps to chip in, personally). Why, exactly, should the taxpayer be bent over for this fiasco?

      Perhaps these ‘tards will be persuaded to do some due diligence next time. After all, it’s only a $500k+ asset they’re buying. People do more due dili when buying a fvcking washing machine FFS.

      • The government are the ‘tards that stopped actually inspecting buildings and let the builders get away with scouts honour, cross my heart it’s good. They bear the most responsibility in this fiasco.

  2. This is the same cnut who refuses to release the list of which buildings are affected because “muh arsonists.” Mainly because it will reveal he, Matthew Guy and Justin Madden approved all of these tinder boxes.

    Arsonists don’t matter when they’re packed full of vibrants from countires notorious for chain smoking 10 deep to a room.

  3. What about aami stadium.
    Both got the bbq fuel.
    Hiesensse had the bad stuff but it was fixed last year

  4. What happens if people renting or in Airbnb from over seas die in a building that uses these poor materials and it was known by state/federal gov that the building in question was a moderate to high risk (moderate simply means the audit report was dumbed down to stop rapid devaluation and panic) If it was known and someone dies wouldn’t the government be liable for a number of law suites.

    • why? I don’t get the nexus of loss / damages and Government liability? eg. Murdered backpackers from europe, is the government liable for that ?

    • One of the good things to arise from such a situation is that people renting out their apartments here in straya on AirBnB may experience a distinct drop off in business meaning potentially more long-term rentals in the market 🙂

      One of the amusing things to arise may be adverts such as: Non-flammable apartment to rent!

  5. Jesus Christ. A dropped bumper can turn a huge building into an inferno within minutes? Really? :Goggle Eyed Amazement Emoji:

    Then again…I spose if you’ve got ten people per unit with piles of crap everywhere, as seemed to be the case, then that’s all it would take. Of course, nobody would be stupid enough to cook on a camp stove in one of those places. Or cover the fire alarm with a takeaway container to stop false alarms.

    • Apparently having chooks in your unit will set off an ionisation type fire alarm
      not sure how, but it does.
      Vietnamese culture.

  6. “Wynne says the federal government has a major role to play in ensuring that building products are compliant and safe.”
    Aren’t building codes and inspections a state/local government responsibility?
    I’m sure it was a council inspector who had that job way back when in my childhood.

    • Buck passing 101. Given how much the Federal Government is loathed, it will work. Meanwhile nothing will happen.

  7. Economically speaking, does anyone care if a couple of hundred immigrants die in a tower fire? After all, within 24 hours they will all be replaced by those onboard planes landing at Melbourne Airport. Its not like people are a scarce resource any more.

    • darklydrawlMEMBER

      I find this comment a bit harsh. Nobody deserves to die in terror, suffocating toxic smoke and flames due to fraudulent building codes. To be frank, it is hardly the immigrants’ fault for this mess. Be angry – but direct that anger at the Government and spivs and ticket clippers in the whole immigration scam. And many of these folks have been scammed. They were sold a dream of a great life in Oz, with cheap housing and easy jobs – what they got is poor employment prospects, expensive everything and life as a delivery or Uber driver. They are the fodder in the Government’s drive to drive down wages and pump prime economic demand.
      I support cuts to immigration accross the board, but you cannot blame the immigrants for coming here legally. Blame the Government – they are the ones screwing us all over.

  8. Someone from the MFB REALLY REALLY needs to whistleblow the list to the media

    Or to the residents.

    It’s kinda on them now when these keep happening

  9. DefinitelyNotTheHorribleScottMorrisonPM

    Stop being such moaning hippies. These buildings will collapse long before they turn into towering infernos.

  10. watch the value of these units converge to $ 0.00 on the open market, as costs of repairs and maintenance escalate beyond the funding ability of majority of owners …. Once perceived as assets, fast becoming liabilities!

  11. Ther are thousands of new huge buildings with flammable cladding and even more without it but somehow we have housing shortage

    • somehow we have housing shortage
      Hundreds of thousands of immigrants per year will tend to create shortages.
      Imagine how bad the shortage will be if these burny boxes get demolished.

    • You are cut from such fine cloth, words can never do justice.
      This is snark of the Highest Quality Known To Man.
      You made my day. much thanks.

  12. At Melbourne Central unilodge 2 bedroom apartment there 9 people stay there. The landlord are Taiwanese and they just subtlet their apartment to Taiwanese working holiday students

  13. How do they check the cladding to see if it is illegal? Do they:

    A) cut it
    B) check the contract
    C) look at it without cutting it

  14. I invited council engineers in Melbourne out to look at an easement a couple of metres from the back fence. I had Aus native plants growing wildly in a moderate suburban manner. Me, a harmless little old lady, Put on my gumboots and selected a tool maybe my demo tool and took them down the back. They had their poly suits and shiny shoes and danced nervously as I open up the bit of scrub and said have a look, tried to give them the tool…..they were absolutely useless. Terrified, got as far away as they could and said yes that’s ok having not been with 3 metres or more. Never set foot on soil let alone local clay nor left their laminex cupboard before. No surprise there are building problems, site problems. I thought the poor frightened bastards. And how terrifying am I. My little mum would do things like sit down in the paddock at 80 and make a small gate with a grandchild by her side. Poor Australia.

  15. Remember high-rise schools as the new utopian dream of Sydney living?

    If these scumbags can make a fast buck that turns a concrete dog box into a Roman Candle, I guess the prospect of cramming poor kids into flammable high density schools is a no brainer? Totally safe (for other people’s kids). Harry T says so. Innes Willox would put his own kids in them in the blink of an eye, hey?

    If thousands of buildings are fire traps we can have absolutely no confidence in the insane and greed-driven industry cheer leaders who have promoted this Ponzi nightmare for their mates.

    It’s just a shame that it will be other people who will be burned at the stake, not them. Not Lucy Turnbull. Nor “Mr Melbourne” (that octopus and ‘Darth Vader sans helmet’ lookalike), Robert Doyle.

    Robert Doyle is indeed the symbol of Melbourne: old money exploiting people, bloated and disgusting until they choke on their own vomit. If I were Barry Humphries I’d sue. Clearly Doyle has modelled himself on Sir Les.