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Policymakers push for cladding standard

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Ministers have asked Standards Australia to develop an Australian Standard for permanent labelling of aluminium composite panels.

A Building Ministers’ Forum (BMF) meeting in Adelaide – also attended by industry representatives – has agreed the issue is “critical” and the labelling will be mandated through the National Construction Code.

The forum also discussed the growing concern over professional indemnity policy exclusions and premium rises for building surveyors, as insurers tighten policies following cladding-fuelled apartment fires.

Ministers agreed an Australia-wide approach is required, and they will develop a response in consultation with the insurance industry and other stakeholders

The BMF discussed a recent report that flagged shortcomings in implementation of the National Construction Code.

The study, by Western Sydney University Chancellor Peter Shergold and experienced lawyer Bronwyn Weir, was commissioned following London’s Grenfell Tower disaster last year.

It noted a range of “significant and concerning” issues including non-compliant cladding, water ingress, unsound roofs and poorly constructed fire-resisting elements. It concluded compliance and enforcement systems must change “as a matter of priority”.

Fire Protection Association Australia attended the forum and says there was “a united resolve” from industry to help governments implement the report’s 24 recommendations.

“The Shergold-Weir report’s recommendations set out a roadmap to improve the compliance and therefore safety of Australia’s buildings,” Deputy CEO Matthew Wright said.

“Successfully implementing them is only possible with a national approach that draws together both government and industry.”

The BMF says it will develop a paper setting out an implementation plan for reform – incorporating feedback from industry stakeholders – to be considered at the next meeting in December.