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VBA takes tough line on engineer linked to fire-hit tower

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The Victorian Building Authority (VBA) is fighting a fire engineer’s attempt to stop a disciplinary process against him after he sought an injunction from the Supreme Court of Victoria.

Registered building practitioner Bruce Thomas had worked on Melbourne's 41-storey Neo200 apartment building, which was evacuated in February when a fire broke out.

A discarded cigarette sparked the blaze that quickly spread from a balcony on the 22nd floor to the 27th, and fire chiefs said afterwards that the building featured cladding similar to that on London's Grenfell Tower.

The VBA is pursuing a disciplinary process against Mr Thomas but that could be halted if he succeeds with his legal action.

In his application to the court, he claims the VBA has wrongfully refused to allow him to surrender his registrations.

Under existing laws, the VBA cannot take disciplinary action against a practitioner if his registration has ceased.

And the VBA says Mr Thomas is trying to avoid scrutiny by resorting to court action.

“The Neo200 building was the site of a serious cladding fire," CEO Sue Eddy said.

"The VBA investigation into this matter will identify those responsible and hold them to account. 

“No one should be allowed to walk away from their responsibilities.

“We don’t believe the community would find it acceptable for the VBA to allow any practitioner to avoid scrutiny and attempt to walk away from their rightful responsibilities by simply handing in their registration.”