The NSW government has taken moves to deal with the flammable cladding crisis. A bill introduced to parliament last week means that if any builders use unsafe building materials and found to have done it intentionally, they could face fines of up to $1millon.
“These new laws will make it easier for us to inspect and to pinpoint exactly where unsafe cladding is on high-rise residential buildings,” Better Regulation Minister Matt Kean said.”These are broad powers… We will throw the book at anyone who is found to have breached these new laws.”
The legislation doesn’t go into specifics but gives the fair trading commisionner the discretion to ban any dangerous materials it finds. It can force the handover of documents and test cladding (and other materials) to compile a list of banned products.
The government audit of 200,000 high-rise NSW buildings revealed about 1000 properties used some kind aluminium cladding. The new laws only apply to use of banned products now and going forward and individuals can be hit with fines of up to $220,000.
Greens MLC David Shoebridge is critical of the legislation.
“It doesn’t even know the building products it wants to ban. The minister could have at least gone to Bunnings first”. He said ” It hasn’t even put new inspectors on.”
An audit to identify potentially dangerous buildings is yet to be completed and is complicated by the fact that safe and unsafe aluminium cladding looks the same from the outside.
“This problem is so broad, there are so many products coming [in] every day,” said Mr Kean “It’s about time the Commonwealth stepped up and worked with us to keep people in NSW safe.”