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Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance
Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance

Heat rises on cladding transparency

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Commonwealth Bank has supported the creation of a public register to help deal with the flammable cladding crisis, while Westpac is also seeking greater transparency as issues related to building products continue to emerge.

States are taking various actions on combustible cladding following the 2014 fire at Melbourne’s Lacrosse building and the Grenfell Tower disaster in London two years ago that killed more than 70 people.

But despite reforms it often remains unclear whether a property has a problem, leaving buyers facing unknown extra costs, insurers wary of cladding risks and residents exposed to potential hazards.

“The health and safety of our customers is paramount to CBA,” a spokeswoman for Australia’s largest home loan lender told

“We would be supportive of a public register that effectively assists home owners and occupiers to identify the compliance of properties to requisite building and safety standards.”

The dangers were highlighted again earlier this year when a fire at the Neo200 building in Melbourne quickly spread up the exterior of several floors.

The Victorian Building Authority is continuing a statewide audit while in NSW an action plan includes requiring owners of buildings with combustible cladding to register the property with the Government. Other states also have action underway.

A Westpac spokesman said the issues around cladding were taken “very seriously” by the bank.

“Transparency and clarity will give home owners and residents greater peace of mind, so we are very supportive of the property sector, government, and banks working together to solve this issue as quickly as possible,” he said.

Litigation funder IMF Bentham in February said it was supporting a combustible cladding class action in the Federal Court in Sydney, with proceedings to be conducted by William Roberts Lawyers.

The claim against 3A Composites and Halifax Vogel Group relates to Alucobond polyethylene cladding products.

Maurice Blackburn last month said it was also considering a class action over costs faced by property owners to rectify problems.

“Ultimately, owners should not have to bear these costs, and we would like to pursue legal against those responsible,” the law firm says.