Fire safety debate continues

The Property Council of Australia says it is considering the comprehensive report by the Senate Committee into Non-Conforming Building Products (NCBPs) and the broader issue of fire safety.

“The Inquiry has been ongoing for a number of years and it deserves thoughtful consideration”, said Ken Morrison, chief executive of the Property Council of Australia.

“We recognise that the most contentious recommendation is the call to ban the use of polyethylene (PE) core Aluminium Composite Panels (ACPs). The ban is recommended on importation and also the sale and use of PE core ACPs domestically.

“Minister Laundy makes the fair point about the proposal: “Calls to ban materials at the border will not work. Firstly, these materials are used for all sorts of applications, for instance, signage. Secondly, some of these materials are made in Australia. And thirdly there are a lot of other products that are combustible that shouldn’t be put on the outside of multi-storey buildings.”

“Mostly, PE cladding has been used in ways that do not compromise fire safety (e.g. in signage or decorative features), so to ban an entire product is a big call. 

“Recognising the importance of public confidence in our fire safety systems, we are consulting with our members about the stance they believe is appropriate and sound.

“Other recommendations are consistent with the industry’s view. These measures include the call for a national licensing scheme for all trades and professionals involved in the building construction industry, and support for states to implement legislation that increases accountability further across the supply chain.  These are important measures but we need national consistency.

“We support the recommendation for Australian Standards called up in legislation to be made free. This is a sensible idea that will remove a barrier for smaller operators in the industry.

Morrison says he hopes that the Senate report does not mark the end of the bi-partisan approach to fire safety that has developed across all jurisdictions over many years.

“Industry and governments of all political backgrounds have been working on the issue of Non-Conforming Building Products and this work has extended across dozens of federal and state agencies. There has been no buck-passing or finger pointing.

“We are concerned that the release of the report has seen an outbreak of finger pointing and politicking. Frankly, we can’t let the dysfunction of Australian politics become part of the fire safety debate. We all lose if that happens.”

“Let’s assume everyone in this debate has the best of intentions and wants to see Australia preserve its world class fire safety record.”

 Image sourced from Flickr cc: ChiralJon

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