Import ban misses heart of cladding problem

Posted on : Friday, 8 September 2017

Recommendations to ban imports of polyethylene core (PE) cladding products do not address the underlying cause of the risk from combustible cladding use on Australian buildings, the Fire Protection Association Australia (FPA Australia) believes.


In its interim report on aluminium composite cladding released on Wednesday, the Senate inquiry into non-conforming building products made a series of recommendations aimed at improving compliance with Australia's building codes and standards, and reducing the future risk of combustible cladding use.


FPA Australia supports many of these wide-ranging recommendations, which offer potential to improve the fire safety of Australian buildings.


But the report also recommends a ban on the importation of PE cladding products, which FPA Australia does not support as an appropriate response to the problem.


"The problem is wider than a single building product. It comes down to people not complying to Australia's building codes and standards, and a PE cladding ban does not fix the problem of compliance," said FPA Australia CEO Scott Williams.


"The use of combustible cladding on high-rise buildings is already banned under the National Construction Code (NCC); we just need people to adhere to that code. Banning the product twice is unnecessary."


FPA Australia believes Australia has one of the best building codes in the world through the NCC and related standards.


"The single most important action we can take is to ensure competent people who comply with the codes and standards are involved throughout the construction process to ensure the necessary quality and safety outcomes are achieved," said Mr Williams.


Several of the recommendations made in the Senate Committee's interim report recognise this necessity, and FPA Australia supports their potential to improve the community's fire safety.


The Association also congratulates Assistant Minister Craig Laundy, chair of the Building Ministers Forum and who has carriage of the Australian Building Codes Board, for the recent work of both bodies. Of particular praise is the recent announcement of an independent expert review into compliance and enforcement problems in the Australian construction sector.


"The BMF review under Minister Laundy goes to the heart of the problem, that of non-compliance and a lack of enforcement," said Mr Williams.

Return to News & Media