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SCA calls for continued efforts to address cladding dangers

Property advocacy group Strata Community Association (SCA) has praised efforts by state governments on plans to remove combustible cladding but says more work is needed to ensure safe building conditions nationwide.

SCA’s announcement came on the fifth anniversary of London’s Grenfell Tower fire, where 72 people died after the high-rise complex was engulfed with flames exacerbated by fire-prone building cladding, sparking global discourse on the dangers of the commonly used material.

SCA National President Chris Duggan says states deserve credit for remaining aware of the issue and have made good progress in taking action, but only the removal of dangerous cladding will resolve the issue.

“Each jurisdiction has made some progress, I am pleased to see it is on everyone’s radar, despite this I would love nothing more than to see all of this stuff off of affected buildings across the country,” Mr Duggan said.

“Most jurisdictions have banned the relevant dangerous products, it is important to note that these products were generally used for purely aesthetic reasons and did not enhance the structural integrity of buildings, there is no reason for them to be placed on a building ever again.”

Mr Duggan says the NSW and Victorian governments have made great strides towards ensuring building safety.

“In my home state of NSW, Project Remediate, a joint venture between the NSW Cladding Taskforce and Fire and Rescue NSW has audited over 185,000 building records and inspected over 4000 buildings to date,” Mr Duggan said.

“Rectification works are underway for the most at risk buildings and I am pleased to see that the Minister believes rectification of all high-risk buildings will occur by the end of 2023, this is a great step forward for NSW.”

The Victorian Government has offered $600 million in potential funds to support the removal of dangerous cladding in high-risk residential buildings identified by a state-wide audit.

“Victoria has a clear 10 step process for rectification, and we hope the roll-out of this program continues to go well,” Mr Duggan said.

“The scale of investment by the Victorian Government is extremely pleasing to see, and we encourage whoever wins the election later this year down South to build on the progress already made and get every Victorian building resident 100% safe as quickly as possible.”

Mr Duggan called on the Queensland Government to outline a clear governmental plan to rectify affected buildings.

“Our Queensland members have navigated the highly bureaucratic Combustible Cladding Checklist over a four-year period now – we just hope rectification is on the agenda and look forward to working with the Queensland Government to deliver in this regard.”

While admitting the issue was smaller in the SA and ACT, he urged both state governments to place a higher priority on resolving the threat posed.

"With more than 90 affected buildings, I really hope the ACT Government accelerates their program which is already underway. This program, known as the Private Buildings Cladding Scheme, is a great start but needs more investment from the ACT government to assess buildings,” Mr Duggan said

“SA is very much at the starting line with their program, and we urge the new Government there to get moving as quickly as possible and put this at the top of their priority list.

“Safety first is something we can all understand. We believe significant funding is needed and given only 28 buildings were identified in their audit, it is a problem the new Government should be able to clean up quickly we hope.”

He commended the work of the WA Government to identify the low number of high-risk buildings and said there are only a few buildings to be rectified in the state.

As the trend of strata buildings continues to grow, Mr Duggan says ensuring they are safely inhabitable is imperative nationwide.

“We believe strata will become the dominant form of housing in this country within our lifetimes and we want all jurisdictions to enhance confidence in these buildings by ensuring everyone in them is safe.”