VIC builders panic as flammable cladding list hits 1200

Victoria’s building industry has called for an amnesty from prosecution for building dodgy high-rises with flammable cladding:

The Master Builders Association says the Andrews government’s get-tough approach, including “litigious posturing” and rhetoric on dodgy builders, is damaging the effort to tackle the [flammable cladding] crisis.

More than 1200 buildings with risky levels of flammable cladding are included on the state government’s list – which is not publicly available – but the association believes there are potentially many more buildings around Victoria that could be dangerous.

Builders, spooked by the state government’s tough rhetoric, are afraid to come forward and co-operate with authorities to identify potential fire traps, according to their peak body.

The association has asked the state government to consider a “moratorium” on prosecutions of builders who self-report…

“There are builders who’ve removed combustible cladding at their own expense but we don’t apologise for going after those who’ve left apartment owners high and dry and undermined confidence in the industry” [Planning Minister Richard Wynne said]…

The Master Builders Association (MBA) certainly has some nerve.

The dodgy builders that made out like bandits cutting corners and erecting thousands of sub-standard apartments have already left taxpayers to foot the bill via the $600 million funding package to replace flammable cladding, equating to around $230 per Victorian household. And now the MBA wants these same builders to be exempted from prosecution.

Here is another classic example of industry privatising the gains from development and socialising the costs.

The Victorian Government should commence a ‘warts and all’ royal commission into the construction industry pronto, in order to properly identify all of the parties at fault and to establish recommendations to clean up the industry (including the regulatory framework).

Those who profited from these dodgy buildings should be required to fix them.

Leith van Onselen

Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.

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