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Thursday, 3 December 2015
Page: 9831

Noncompliant Building Products

Senator MADIGAN (Victoria) (14:27): My question is to the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Senator Sinodinos. Minister, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union wrote to all state and territory building ministers in May asking them to conduct audits of highly combustible cladding used in high-rise buildings, the type of which contributed to an inferno at the Docklands Lacrosse Building in Melbourne, risking the lives of 400 people. I understand the union has informed the federal government of these requests. What has the government done in response to this information? Has it requested the states and territories carry out the required orders?

Senator SINODINOS (New South WalesCabinet Secretary) (14:28): I thank the honourable senator for his question. I actually received it during question time. I do not have a briefing with me on this point, but I appreciate the seriousness of the matter that he has raised and I will follow it up.

Senator MADIGAN (Victoria) (14:29): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Minister, as reported in The Australian newspaper, the Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade gave evidence to the Senate inquiry into nonconforming building products last month to the effect that major Australian cities are at the mercy of noncompliant building products and that a national audit is required as numerous buildings in our cities are ticking time bombs. Given this issue was on the agenda at the COAG building ministers forum on 31 July, why is there still no commitment by either the federal government or state and territory— (Time expired)

Senator SINODINOS (New South WalesCabinet Secretary) (14:29): The Building Ministers' Forum agreed at its 31 July meeting to establish a working group to report to ministers within six months on strategies to minimise the risk to consumers, to businesses and to the community associated with the failure of building products to conform to relevant laws. The ABCB would investigate options for a possible mandatory scheme for high-risk building products with life-safety implications and report to ministers within six months.

Senator MADIGAN (Victoria) (14:30): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Minister, if, when the Building Ministers' Forum convenes in February there is no commitment by state and territory governments to carry out comprehensive audits in their respective states and territories, will the federal government request that this occur, or alternatively begin work on the establishment of a national audit in the interests of ensuring that the ongoing risk to the lives of occupants and firefighters is abated?

Senator SINODINOS (New South WalesCabinet Secretary) (14:30): I can assure the honourable senator that, once we receive the report, in concert with our state colleagues we will move expeditiously to do what we can to deal with this issue, and I will follow up on his behalf.