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Senate launches flammable cladding inquiry

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A Senate inquiry will investigate the impact of non-conforming building products, following November’s devastating fire in Melbourne’s Docklands.

The blaze in the Lacrosse building was started by a cigarette on an eighth-floor balcony.

Combustible wall cladding, imported from China and not tested to Australian standards, then enabled it to race up to the 21st floor.

Experts believe it is fortunate no lives were lost, and fear hundreds of buildings may contain the same or similar materials.

Independent senator for SA Nick Xenophon has sponsored the inquiry with the support of senators John Madigan (Victoria) and Jacqui Lambie (Tasmania).

It will examine the economic impact of non-conforming products, plus the effect on safety and costs passed to consumers, including insurance.

The inquiry will also address possible improvements to current regulatory frameworks.

Senator Xenophon says the system is “clearly failing” and Australia has become “a dumping ground for some of the world’s dodgiest and most dangerous building products”.

Authorities in Victoria and WA are carrying out audits of high-rise buildings to identify any non-compliant use of flammable cladding.

The Senate inquiry is due to report by October 12.