The federal government is adamant that the states should bear the full financial cost of remediation work on buildings that have structural defects or use combustible cladding. Industry Minister Karen Andrews says the states should not “shirk their responsibilities”, given the revenue they have gained from the construction boom over the last decade. Meanwhile, Victoria’s shadow planning minister Tim Smith notes that RMIT has estimated that removing combustible cladding from buildings in the state would cost around $2.6 billion. The state government has allocated $600m for this work, and has begged the federal government to contribute half of this amount. From The Australian:
“States have been big beneficiaries of the building and construction boom over the past decade,” Ms Andrews told The Australian. “Now is not the time for them to shirk their responsibilities.”
But Labor’s industry spokesman Brendan O’Connor turned the accusation against the Morrison government, saying it had been “shirking responsibility” by refusing to provide funding for rectification works and failing to address the inability of building surveyors to obtain insurance.
“Each day the Morrison government fails to take leadership and respond to the building industry crisis, businesses are closing down, the safety and lives of Australians are put at risk,” Mr O’Connor said. “The regulatory and enforcement regime is broken, and leadership on this issue is needed to improve compliance with the national construction code and toughen up penalties”…
“I will again offer to fund a taskforce that will work with the states and territories so they can implement the recommendations of the Building Confidence report,” Ms Andrews said.
I agree somewhat with Karen Andrews’ sentiments. The Victorian Government has been a vocal champion of mass immigration and the inevitable rapid high-rise construction boom that followed.
That said, there is a lot of blame to go around, including:
- Australian standards relating to flammable cladding, and whether these were adhered to by importers and builders
- were mandatory tests carried out on cladding and fixing materials (including Fire Rating tests) – especially on cheap imported rubbish?
- What teaching and examination programs were all importers and installers required to complete and qualify before being approved and licenced?
- Whether assessors turned a blind eye
- The list goes on…
The only way to sift though these issues in a comprehensive and methodical way is for the federal government to call a royal commission into building regulations, standards and processes.
Rather than a knee-jerk response, a royal commission should be the number one priority of the federal government in dealing with this debacle.